Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding the Fisheries - Response to Mr. Boyd's Article

Mr. Boyd’s letter in our last blog post generated some interesting response. It seems that many Newfoundlands and Labradorians are not ready to accept the notion of a dead fishery.

One of our members Dean P. has been in tune with changes in the Fishery. Although there is a trend in seeing the fishery go to bigger centralized means, ie: the processors and government interests, he is non-the-less reminded of the efforts of groups like the Fogo Island Coop. He describes the Fogo Island Coop as “one of those much needed facilities that rose from the ocean to solve a local economic problem.” Indeed the Labrador Fisheries Union Shrimp Company Ltd. is another such example of a community taking control of a resource that has sustained them for centuries. Dean warns; “If we don’t start to take back our rights we will loose all communities on the coast - factory trawlers will be seen on the fishing shoals and you won't be allowed to catch a fish!”

The answers lie in an insistence on policy that supports our rural communities, suggests Ron W., another of our members. As an example he suggests: Government/the people should aim to own 100% of the Cod quota. He suggests this would take a lot of years, as current quota holders would have to be grandfathered out. "Government could distributes an equal Cod quota to EVERY Newfoundland and Labrador citizen allowing for quotas to be traded between Newfoundlanders and Labradorians however they see fit and as many times as they wish" Ron suggests. Rebuilding a barter system that has been integral to the survival of many of our communities throughout our history. "Secondly Cod quota can be sold to an incorporated business only once (possibly twice as there might be a demand for a middle man between fishers and processors)". Ron’s suggestions would do a couple of important things to the mindset of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, most importantly it would instantly attach the cod fish to every Newfoundlander and Labradorians life (even if you just wanted to sell your quota for cash as soon as you got it).

Ron and Dean have both asked for feedback on their thoughts. Can we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians reevaluate the fishery in these terms? Should we? Is there a future in the fishery, for our rural communities especially? We’d love to hear your thoughts (info at

I have a follow up article from Mr. Boyd that I will be posting to the CLCC’s blog in the coming days. Stay tuned. And keep the feedback coming.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finding the Fisheries of the Future for Newfoundland and Labrador

I thought about calling this piece the "F" word because Fisheries has become almost taboo in Newfoundland and Labrador. An industry that still, in modern times, is worth one billion dollars and shows such tremendous promise for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador communities. But we are not supposed to say that are we? We are not even supposed to know about it. The fishery is dead isn't it?!

The Following is a letter from a friend of the CLCC Mr. D. Boyd of Twillingate to the Provincial Fisheries Minister Mr. Tom Hedderson. It expresses a view commonly discussed within the CLCC that fisheries management on a community level is an important part of the sustainability and growth of many of our rural communities:


It was almost amusing to hear Mr. Hedderson and Fisheries Broadcast host, John Furlong, puzzling over why the seafood processors rejected the government's proposal of injecting five million dollars into improving seafood markets, ostensibly for the benefit of both processors and harvesters.

"It's a 64,000 dollars question!" Mr. Furlong stated. "No," Minister Hedderson injected, " It's a five million dollar question! We'll have to ask the processors why they took this course of action!"

We should not be so naive as to not know the processors motivation. To that end I , this evening, called up a fisherman friend of mine, who I believe finished grade three.

"Did you hear that the processors turned thumbs down on the government's offer of finding new and improved markets? " I asked.

"Yes , by, shocking idn't it!" he replied.
" And, what do you think their reason was?" I asked my old fisherman friend.

"Well, by," he said, "tis pretty simple - even a school youngster could figure that one out. See tis like dis!

We is the last generation of independent fishermen, because the way the fishery is now, there is no young people tinking about getting into the fishery, and to my mind, das the way the processors wants to keep it! If the government finds new markets and improves the lot of the fishermen, - makes their enterprises more lucerative- , as they say, perhaps the youngsters might want to step in der fathers boots and carry on as independent fish harvesters - and dat, my son, would interfere with the processors vision of owning the fishery lock, stock and barrel!"

" And dat question, you just asked me, " he continued, " got me tinking about Danny Williams taking on the whole crowd up in ottawa, because we's standing to lose a billion dollars. Well, the fishery brings in over a billion dollars EVERY year and Danny Williams got to ask the processors if he can help the fishermen find markets!!! Was dat all about- the processors got more power than Steven Harper!!"

" And while I'm at it, another ting, that bother me is that Butler fellar saying that the structure of the fishery is ALL wrong. Well, the way I see it - the fishermen goes out and catches the fish- feeds he's family and keeps he's community alive. The processors buys he's fish and sells it to the markets of the world (something the government wants to help with), and das what keeps our Outports alive. Now whas wrong wit that?

Seems to me the processors wants to catch all the fish themselves and to hell with the fishing villages, and if anyone had any doubt about dat, der decision today to refuse government dollars that might help the fishermen and their communities, should put such doubt to rest.

If I were Danny Williams I would give the boot to all of them cause tis shocking the way the fish merchants have held the fishermen hostage for hundreds of years and the government is helpin em do it!"

Good thing my friend has only grade three, as perhaps he might be the leader we need for the revolution required in the fishery.

Thank you,
D. Boyd

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Backward Path Well Trodden: PEI Follows NL's Mistakes

I often find myself sitting and chewing the fat with people who were minutes ago strangers. That is the Newfoundlander in me. I remember one such meeting one sunny afternoon on the waterfront in St. John's. One question stuck with me, the gentleman asked if I thought that Newfoundland and Labrador is unique in some of it's battles, with rural communities fading, in a province that is often an afterthought in the federation.

The answer is that; of course I recognize that the battles of rural Newfoundland and Labrador are not unique. I sometimes speak so passionately about our Newfoundland and Labrador that the casual listener may be inclined to think that I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador is the only place in the universe. I speak that way not because I am egocentric, but because I have to. With such a small representation for Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa, and with such a poor representation of the rural perspective on the island and in the Big Land, I feel compelled.

I thought about the conversation on the St. John's Waterfront when I read an article about PEI's newly formed Rural Alliance and I was reminded instantly of our own CLCC. The PEI group is taking up arms in what it knows is an affront to the rural way of life; the closure of rural schools.

With the CLCC we have had many a heated conversation lamenting the lose of some of our own rural schools. We had a gentleman even tell us he was involved with these closures and today counts his participation in that process as one of his deepest regrets. What could have been different if this one person had stood his ground and advocated for the rural communities? That brings about the question of what can one individual do to affect change?

Our chair Mr. Ray Johnson has always impressed upon the friends and members of the CLCC that one man can make a difference. He uses the movie "Amazing Grace" as an example. The story tells of William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending slavery in the British colonies. A fight that took decades. Of course those involved with the CLCC will recognize how Ray himself is an example of how one person can affect change, his infectious enthusiasm for Newfoundland and Labrador created the CLCC and is inspiring its growth.

... so from the CLCC (Newfoundland and Labrador's own "Rural Alliance") to PEI's Rural Alliance: All the best in your battle to see the rural lifestyle of PEI sustain and flourish. We hope that you can call upon the strength of the individual from the community level to the bureaucrats and policy makers to work for positive change and stave off the destruction of rural life.