Informing Governance Responses in a Changing Ocean

Lay Summary 

Twenty five years after the collapse of Newfoundland and Labrador’s cod fishery, new shifts in fisheries — declining crab and shrimp quotas, hints of a modest cod stock recovery, an aging workforce, climate change, and more — present new challenges for the effective governance and management of the province’s fisheries. 


This research will investigate how recent changes to Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries will impact the future of fisheries, coastal communities, and the provincial economy. It will identify what’s required to rebuild collapsed fisheries, and identify governance solutions that will achieve safe and resilient fisheries and coastal communities.


July 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of moratoria on multiple Atlantic Canadian fisheries, including Northern cod. Those moratoria shifted fishing towards shellfish — crab and shrimp — and species that live well above the seafloor (whereas cod are groundfish that live near the ocean’s bottom).


Following the moratoria, the seafood industry in Newfoundland and Labrador adapted, and in 2012, it contributed about 3.15% to the provincial GDP ($1 billion of $31.7 billion) and employed 7.23% of the provincial labour force.


Now, a new shift in fisheries is anticipated, with cod show some signs of recovery coincident with declining numbers in shellfish and other fished species. The province’s fisheries also face other major challenges:

  • an aging workforce
  • concerns about labour shortages
  • conflict relating to resource access, governance and stock assessment science
  • climate change


Overcoming these challenges will require a transition from management to governance. Using a community-engaged, collaborative approach, this research will develop governance responses to help rebuild collapsed fisheries and threatened communities, and to achieve safe and resilient fisheries and coastal regions.


The first phase of the project will host a Taking Stock Dialogue, bringing together stakeholders from research, government, industry, and the community to. appraise changes that occurred (regulatory, industry, resources, etc.) leading up to and since the moratoria, critically assess current fisheries, and identify where research is required to fill knowledge gaps. 


The second phase of the research program includes five projects critical to informing current and future governance:

  • access to resources and markets
  • intergenerational recruitment, training and retention in small scale fisheries;
  • perceptions, values and knowledge;
  • marine safety; and
  • vulnerability and viability.


The third phase of the project will use the research results as a basis to develop and host a Getting it Right Dialogue, where stakeholders will be invited to discuss options for Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries and to develop short- and long-term governance responses. 


Project Website:


More information about this project and a complete list of researchers can be found here.


Adapted from

Political Science
Marine Institute Campus
Environmental Policy Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science
Environmental Studies
Newfoundland and Labrador
Cold Ocean and Arctic, Science, Technology and Society
Atlantic cod
Climate Change
Labour Supply
Start date 
1 Jan 2020
Lead Organization 
Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI)
Partner Organization 
Canadian Fisheries Research Network
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
International Coastal Network
NL Torngat Secretariat, Nunatsiavut
OceanCanada Partnership
On the Move Partnership
Too Big To Ignore Partnership
Centre of Rural Research, Norway
Integrated Marine Ecosystem Research (IMBeR), Norway LABEX MER, IUEM
University of Brest, France SINTEF Ocean, Norway UiT – The Artic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway