Friday, August 27, 2010

Field Notes: Community-Supported Fisheries - Why They Matter (reprinted with permission)

Reprinted with permission from a publication of The Island Institute

Community Linkages strongly supports Community Supported Fisheries.  It is a concept that politial scientists like the figurehead of the Association of Seafood Producers will tell you is a pipe dream.  The fact that Derek Butler is also the name behind the ASP, a key player in the present MOU that aims to reinvent Newfoundland and Labrador's fishery might play a significant role in his opinion.  The ASP of course being the group who punishes the Community Supported Fishery of Fogo Island when they had the nerve to offer fisherman a modest pay for crab last year.

This message is to the political scientists, the multi-million dollar lobbyists, and the corporate interests who would ship our ocean resources away unprocessed, in bulk so the money can be made by them and them alone.

Community Based Fishery has a stronger place for harvesters, for the union of harvesters, for plant workers, and for the communities involved.  There is less of a place for those who would skim the proceeds off the top to the detrimant of the true stakeholders.

Consider these words from the article from the Island Institute:  "More than dialogue, CSFs have created the possibility for being a different kind of fisherman that experiments with cleaner gear, donates fish to community dinners, makes food available to food banks, hires neighbors to work delivering fish directly to customers."  For anyone with a sense of Newfoundland and Labrador history there is something both familiar and relatable in these words.

Field Notes: Community-Supported Fisheries - Why They Matter
by Rob Snyder

I just attended the Midcoast Fishermen's Association's (MFA) fish bake on August 22. If you missed it, don't let it happen again! Community members new, old and even a few young, piled into the town office down the St. George peninsula for a meal of steamed potatoes, breaded hake with Newberg sauce, salad, biscuits and enough desert to hold us diners over until spring. All of it, served up by fishing families that are working to change the trajectory of an industry.

Perhaps more than anything else, the fishing families in Port Clyde became well known because they launched the nation's first community-supported fishing (CSF) operation, selling shares of their fish to consumers ahead of the fishing season based on the community-supported agriculture model. Most of the major newspapers in the United States caught wind of the CSF idea being jumped into action. In fact, there has been little need to spend any money on advertising for the past two years because this idea captured the national imagination.

Why is the community-supported fisheries idea so important?

For the past 34 years-the entirety of the history of fisheries management-there has been one dominant framework for thinking about the ocean. Let's call it the fish/fishermen relationship. Problems with how the ocean is managed? Manage fishermen's behavior better or count fish better. For three and a half decades, rules have been devised that restrict the time fishing (days at sea), the pounds of fish that can be caught (quota management), the social institutions that shape behavior (sectors), and the gear that can be used. All of this focused on fishermen's behavior. All the while, stock assessment science has been through its own evolution that improves our ability to estimate the number of fish in the sea.

Logical? Yes. But it has had another consequence that has been tragic.

If the only discussion that can exist about fishermen and fish involves a management relationship, then there is almost no opportunity to talk about fishermen as a source of local food, as contributors to healthy diets, finding solutions to hunger, and as part of a community economy. Instead, the only discussion to be had is around how exploiters must be managed and fish must be counted more accurately.

The brilliance of the community-supported fisheries concept is that it takes all that has been deemed external to the fish/fishermen relationship and brings these factors into discussions about the ocean. In other words, CSFs enable entirely new dialogues about fish and fishermen that have not existed for decades. Health, community, conservation, the benefits of local foods, etc. become a part of discussions about the importance of healthy ocean resources.

More than dialogue, CSFs have created the possibility for being a different kind of fisherman in Port Clyde-one that experiments with cleaner gear, donates fish to community dinners, makes food available to food banks, hires neighbors to work delivering fish directly to customers, and much more. Furthermore, the CSF model has become a source of optimism for fishermen and thoughtful consumers around the country. In turn, the publicity and impact of the CSF model came full circle and impacted fisheries management in late 2009 when one of the fishermen in the Port Clyde community was appointed to the New England Fisheries Management Council.

On my way to the hake bake, I visited friends down the St. George peninsula. Unsolicited, they began to talk about all the fish they had been eating over the summer as a result of their CSF share. Three years ago they did not know who caught their fish. Today, they know a tremendous amount about fishermen, fish, local food, commercial fishing infrastructure, how to clean a fish and use a fish rack for soup stock, and they even ask on occasion about fisheries management.

Ultimately, CSF customers want to know if the fishermen in their community are going to survive. They, and hundreds of other CSF shareholders care, and this is perhaps the greatest achievement of all.

I would like to acknowledge discussions with Kevin St. Martin at Rutgers University for his contribution to ideas presented in this column.

Rob Snyder is executive vice-president at the Island Institute.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 becomes

Community Linkages has a new home on the web. is now moved to a more reliable server with a friendlier name. !

Set your bookmarks.  Same old face for now, but that's about to change also.

I'd love to have your rants, pics and thoughts to add - send it along.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NAFO: The Ottawa Senators - The Ones without Skates.

Although perhaps the Senators with Skates may be slightly more popular and for the most part far more productive I have to admit from time to time the retirement home that is our senate does strike a chord.

Consider this article from "The House", wouldn't you love to hear honest truthful answers to these questions:

By the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.:

July 8, 2010—During the last parliamentary session, the government tabled a proposed treaty that would amend the Convention of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

Following depletion of many fish stocks off our Atlantic coast by foreign vessels, Canada in 1977 declared a 200- mile limit. NAFO then came into being to manage various fisheries outside or straddling the outer limit of Canada's zone.

Dominated by the European Union and other countries, NAFO has laid down a dismal record. Lax rules and poor co-operation have prevented recovery of badly depleted species.

Despite that history, the proposed treaty would open the new possibility under certain circumstances of NAFO managing chosen fisheries inside Canada's 200-mile zone. In those fisheries, NAFO would be telling Canadians what to do with regard to research, management, and fishing itself. And the treaty would heighten the chances of foreign vessels themselves fishing inside the zone.

Given NAFO's grim history, former top executives of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans campaigned publicly against the treaty. Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador wrote the Prime Minister and all premiers to urge rejection. The bipartisan Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans urged delay and further study. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans called for rejection, as did the House itself in a recorded vote.

Despite that democratic opposition, the government announced, immediately after the House vote, that it had ratified the treaty.

Could the government of Canada provide the following information:

1. Why should this country open fisheries within the 200-mile limit, for which coastal communities and our nation fought so hard, to any possibility of foreign management?

2. Will the government confirm that, when the new NAFO treaty enters into force, it will open the possibility that NAFO could under certain circumstances manage particular fisheries right up to the very shores of Canada's Atlantic coast, including the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence?

3. Does the government consider that opening this possibility of foreign management within our zone enhances Canadian sovereignty, and if so, in what way?

4. With a bipartisan Senate committee urging delay and a Commons committee and the House of Commons itself urging rejection, why did the government immediately approve the treaty without further discussion?

5. Will the government confirm that this was a cursory and disrespectful treatment of Parliament; and if it was not, in what way can it be said to have respected the views and the votes of parliamentarians?

6. Does the government intend to continue tabling treaties in Parliament, and if so, does it intend to consider respectfully the views of Parliament, or will it dismiss such views and votes as it sees fit without further discussion?

7. Does the government now reject and would it ignore any further parliamentary discussion on withdrawing from or ameliorating the proposed new treaty, before ratification by other parties brings it into force?

8. If the government does not reject such discussion, will it endorse or at least raise no objection to renewed parliamentary consideration of the treaty?


Monday, August 9, 2010

Renovations on the Flakehouse - The New Fishery

MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), Restructuring, Rationalization, Moritorium.  Do you ever get the feeling these are careful thought out words used by the powers that be to recreate a fishery that no longer belongs to us.  I mean, when do we as the people of this province sit and talk like that over a tea with Aunt May, or a whiskey with Skipper John.  Truth is someone else now controls the fishery, and we are letting it go.  The resource that sustained Rural Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries "rationalized" to a business model that sees businesses gain and communities lose.

The trully sad part is that we are told that this is the only way, by the same people who sit and think of words like Moritorium and Rationalization.  But let's get our heads back on straight.  The co-op model of Fogo Island is a successful community venture, born of necessity but fed on innovation.  Can we be so bold as to reclaim our birthright?  Can we afford not to?

Communities need to have a say into any restructuring of the fishery period.  We are, each of us, the primary stakeholder.  Why then are we the forgotten stakeholder.

Minister Jackman is to be congratulated for finally acknowleding that the people of our rural communities need to be heard on the fishery.  Unfortunately he suggested the time to be heard is after the restructuring.  After business has had it's voice heard load and clear and recorded in official documentation minister Jackman thinks it will be enough to go to the wharf and let the average fisherman have his say.  He even brags that unofficially he has done this.  Unofficial dialogue outside the MOU between a fisherman and Minister with "no bureaucrats" will have as much strength as a third-hand teabag.

Where were you when they let let the rural fishery die?

Monday, July 5, 2010

DFOs Paper Tigers

DFO gives up on Newfoundland and Labrador, they abandon fisheries research and waits for us to die.

When we take the reigns and decide to do it ourselves DFO minister Gail Shea says she welcomes Newfoundland and Labrador doing it's own Fisheries research providing we get her permission. What is it called when a person does none of the work but demands to have final say? I am not sure if DFO imagines itself to be our masters or our pimps.

It's like hiring a painter to paint your house, they prime the walls and leave, 61 years later they come back to demand a say in the colour.

All Gail Shea has to offer is a rubber stamp.

DJ Fancey

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Voice

Darren: Friends, Ray Johnson has a unique way of expressing in a few short words what often takes me a belaboured ramble.  I thought it appropriate to share these thoughts sent to be by the chair of Community Linkages, because in the end we are not a group but a collection of single voices with a common passion in our hearts:

A thought came to me I would like to share.

Back in the spring of 2009, Susan Boyle took the stage of Britian's Got Talent. Compared to other contestants, she was plain-looking. No one expected much when she raised the microphone to her lips. But then she began to sing. Spellbound, the judges were taken with the beauty and power of the voice that filled the auditorium as the audience stood to their feet cheering with delight.

Message as it relates to the above: Common folk like you and me take turns on the stage of life in front of the world's skeptical audience.

With this in mind, let us move forward but keeping in mind that some day our voice will be heard that will in some way reach an audience who will see the need to turn to us for guidence and turn things around for the betterment of Rual NL.  - RayJ

Everyone deserves a voice, add yours for rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Add your voice to Community Linkages.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shrimp and Greens - A Lesson from our American Neighbours

In Newfoundland and Labrador we are saying: "You think the crab pricing negotiations were bad, wait until we have to deal with the shrimp!"

In New York (just a row in a skiff down the coast)  They are saying "...the biggest seasonal harvest since 1997. Because the harvest has exceeded the recommended maximum catch, regulators are closing the season Wednesday, more than three weeks earlier than originally planned."  and ''The market was certainly able to handle more volume at a higher price than last year''

What is different from New York to Newfoundland and Labrador?  The fishery of today in our Newfoundland and Labrador has done very well in making a good profit on the belief that the fishery is dead and harvesters should be more than glad to get their meager pittance for their catch.

It is time for Newfoundland and Labrador to reown our fishery.