Biological and economic aspects of the Newfoundland cod fisheries

Dunne, Eric Benedict (1970) Biological and economic aspects of the Newfoundland cod fisheries. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)


This study examines economic and biological aspects of the Newfoundland cod fisheries in an attempt to explain why this industry, particularly the inshore sector, is continually in economic straits. -- The study can be divided into two segments, the first setting the groundwork for the analysis contained in the second part. To provide a groundwork, the first segment deals with the biological aspects of the cod stocks, the economic theory of a sea fishery, and the record of government attention to the Newfoundland cod fisheries. -- Several distinct stocks of cod are found to exist around the Newfoundland coast, however, all of these do not approach close enough to shore to be available to the inshore cod fishermen. Even more significant is the fact that the stocks which do migrate within range of inshore gears are also fished on the offshore grounds before and after their inshore movement. This multiple fishing of these stocks is deemed to create an externality for the inshore cod fishery. Certain other behaviourial characteristics of the cod have been said to have special implications for the inshore fishery. These include the tendency for cod to remain in cold water, avoid excessive light, and become sluggish if well fed. -- The economic theory of a sea fishery, as developed by several authors, is reviewed to provide guidelines for later analysis. The significant point of this theory is that sea fisheries tend to become overexploited because no one operator can appropriate the rent from the resource. Consequently, fishing effort is pushed beyond the economic optimum point and returns to factors engaged are depressed. This course of action may push the fishery even beyond the point of the biological optimum which has been the usual goal of fishery administrators in the past. This tendency will be the focal point of the inshore fishery analysis. -- The review of government attention to the fishery centres on two aspects: regulation and assistance. Most of the regulations are found to affect the inshore cod trap fishery. However, in toto, these rules are directed mainly to achieving orderly fishing or protecting operators of a certain type of gear rather than economic fishing levels. The record of government assistance has had two phases: pre-Confederation and post-Confederation. In the first the objective of the programmes was to achieve orderly and efficient marketing with little attention given to improving productivity at the primary level. The second phase was characterized by attempts to improve the capital base of the fishery through subsidization of vessels, fishing gear and materials. -- The analytical section begins with an examination of the inshore cod fishery in the period since 1937. Several trends are found to exist over this period. Landed volume has steadily declined while value of catch has risen. The number of men employed fell rapidly in the early fifties and showed some upward movement thereafter but never reattained former levels. There is no legal restriction on entry to this fishery but exit is hindered by several factors: lack of education, isolation and general psychology. Technology has not yet changed significantly and catching apparatus lack the element of pursuit characteristic of more mobile fishing fleets. The major problem is found to be one of too many men chasing fewer and fewer fish but incurring higher costs as time goes on. Government policy has had the unfortunate result of encouraging both improvements in technology and maintaining high numbers of fishermen. All these ills are concurrent with uneconomic offshore fishing effort reducing the stocks exploitable inshore. -- The offshore codfishery is very different from the inshore. A highly mobile fleet consisting mainly of otter trawlers, fish cod only a small percentage of the time. The otter trawler fleet is company-owned and thus tends to fish species that are not available in sufficient quantities inshore. But this fleet must overcome certain inefficiencies if future cod landings are to be economically maintained at present levels. These problems are found to centre around low catches, high average costs, low average revenue and poor operating times. -- It is finally decided that manpower in the inshore cod fishery must be reduced if that fishery is to be more economic or less uneconomic. The offshore cod fishery will have to supply more landings in the future if demand continues at present levels. If this is to be done economically, improvements in the operating efficiency of the offshore fleet must be made. Recommendations for achieving these ends are offered. They centre mainly on restricting entry to the inshore fishery and achieving fuller utilization of the existing offshore fleet before expanding it.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 7300
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 120-123.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Economics
Date: 1970
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cod fisheries--Newfoundland and Labrador; Cod fisheries--Economic aspects--Newfoundland and Labrador

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