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.