Exploring Innovation in the Inshore Fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador

This exploratory study emerged from discussions in 2012 among the researchers regarding innovation and the nature of innovation in the inshore fishery in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Policy for Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries defines the inshore fishing sector in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region as commercial fish harvesters using licensed vessels usually less than 27.4m (90’) Length Over All (LOA) (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2010). This fleet is dominated by vessels less than 35’ LOA. In 2012, the less than 35’ boats represented 85% of the total commercial fishing fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 2013).

The authors have been involved in community-based fisheries research projects for decades on topics ranging from fishing practices, the social impacts of the fisheries and fisheries support, fisheries management and regulatory operations policies. However, it is acknowledged that very little discussion has taken place on innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest commercial inshore fleet. This document addresses this concern by presenting the context of innovation in the inshore fishery and three case studies that highlight applied innovations in the fishery that have been developed and implemented. The case studies presented in this report investigate and document inshore fisheries innovation in harvesting and processing in Newfoundland and Labrador, and uncover the barriers and facilitators to innovation in this sector.

Key issues in the analysis of innovation in the inshore fishery in NL depend on the business context. Review of this context reflects barriers to innovation characterized by insufficient funding, disincentives for risk- taking due to government support programs, regulatory impediments to small-scale harvesters for integrating limited processing activities, and divisive industry structure (e.g., division of responsibility for fisheries governance among DFO, DFA and the FFAW, two associations representing processors, and lack of an NL fish marketing board). These factors do not foster an entrepreneurial spirit among fish harvesters or processors operating in a global marketplace. Facilitation of innovation is stimulated in this context by the need to adapt to major shifts in the fishery, and by the leadership under these threats to develop partnerships locally and internationally, and by taking advantage of support programs for innovation. The report recommendations are presented toward highlighting new business development opportunities, improve viability, and maintain a sustainable livelihood. Examples of innovation are broad and involve new technology, but also new markets, marketing and product diversification, as well as individual “tinkering” by entrepreneurs who adopt or adapt new technologies and create their own modifications for improved performance.

Case studies interviews were conducted by the authors with the consent of the representative personnel in the inshore harvesting and processing sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador, under the permission applied for and granted by the Ethics Review Board of the University of Ottawa and Memorial University of Newfoundland. Any reproduction of this material should only be done with the written permission of the authors.

Team Members

Kelly Vodden, Memorial University
Erika Parrill, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Helen Woodrow, Memorial University
Maureen Woodrow, University of Ottawa
Dan Lane, C-FOAM Chair

Project Resources

Exploring Innovation in the Inshore Fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador (2014). Woodrow, Woodrow, Parrill, Vodden, and Lane.