Da Legal Stuff...

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Canadian Government Refuses to Protect Atlantic Fish Stocks

For years the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, through provincial leaders of every political stripe, have lobbied Ottawa to enact custodial management of ground fish stocks. Doing so would enable Canada to deny foreign fishing fleets access to stocks on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap off the coast of the province.

Nobody listened.

During the last election campaign Prime Minister Dithers promised he would see that these stocks were protected, but like so many of Mr. Martin’s promises, this one was left unfulfilled.

Recently a report released world wide by a major animal welfare organization stated what Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have known and been screaming for longer than anyone cares to remember. The report showed that, although there are a number of factors involved, overfishing is the primary reason ground fish stocks in Atlantic Canada have not been able to rebound and that no bigger threat exists than foreign fleets just outside Canada’s 200 mile limit.

Nobody listened.

Now a new voice has been added to the chant. The Canadian National Chamber of Commerce, which represents the chambers of every province in the country, has unanimously voted to lobby Ottawa for custodial management in Atlantic waters.

As business people they have come to understand the impact that foreign overfishing is having, and will continue to have, on this once thriving industry. An industry that at one time was the backbone of Atlantic Canada. An industry that is now perhaps only a few years away from being nothing more than a footnote in Canadian history books.

Nobody is listening.

Ottawa still has not invoked custodial management of these crucial spawning grounds, which we have every right to do under UN law. Instead they are attempting to have cod added to the threatened species list. This would have the effect of severely limiting any possible use of the growing inshore stocks by Canadian fishers and might even impact the harvest of other species inside our waters. It will do nothing to stop foreign draggers from raping one of the world’s largest offshore fish nurseries or helping rebuild the offshore stocks.

What will it take before officials in Ottawa understand the importance of protecting these waters? Will the cod have to become as rare as a mosquito in January, or perhaps as rare as finding a politician with a conscience?

It’s high time the federal government stopped covering its ASSets in the international community and did what was right for its own people.

During the last election campaign Mr. Martin made two important promises to Newfoundland and Labrador. One was that the province would be given a fair share of its offshore oil revenues. The other was to take control of the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

After months of negotiation, debate, infighting, outfighting, hair pulling, eye gouging and even a slight incidence of revolution on the part of Premier Danny Williams, Martin finally buckled and signed an agreement on oil revenues. The question everyone in the province is asking is what happened to that other election promise?

Everyone expects Paul Martin to shirk his responsibility and shy away from that promise, it’s his standard operating practice, but why hasn’t Premier Williams shown as much backbone on this issue as he did on oil revenues? It has become very clear to everyone in Canada that the Prime Minister will only honor his promises when he is pushed into a corner he can’t maneuver out of. The surprise is the fact that Premier Williams hasn't found a nice dark corner and begun pushing.

Why is this issue not being addressed? The Atlantic Premiers Conference will be taking place in PEI this month. Even though the future of the ground fish industry, the livelihood of everyone who depends on it and the very survival of rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada are hanging in the balance, the issue of custodial management is not on the agenda.

Still, nobody is listening.


Anonymous said...

Let's through some chum on the Atlantic Premier's conference table table... bet the political sharks'll start feeding then

Patriot said...

The following was sent to me today by one of our MPs. I thought I would share it with you.

Email Content:

Dear Mr. Higgins:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your email on overfishing.

I agree with most of what you say. However, do not think they is no one listening. The issue is still alive and well in Ottawa.

Just recently I arranged to have the Standing Committee on Fisheries & Oceans visit our Province for hearings on Northern Cod. One thing made clear was the effect of overfishing. Our report will again revive the issue.

I met with the Board of Trade Executive recently and we discussed plans to keep this issue on the agenda. We do need more involvement and I certainly appreciate your interest.

All the best,

Loyola Hearn, M.P.
St. John's South-Mount Pearl

Anonymous said...

The question of why Premier Williams refuses to take the same tuff stand for the fishery of NL. as he did for oil, is one that I have been asking since the flag flap incident. The following may provide some insite to the question. All we ever hear about is the illegal foreign overfishing. Which should be stopped at all costs. But no one ever says anything about the devestating effect that LEGAL foreigh overfishing is having against NL. NL fisherpeople have suffered 57 years of brutal oppression through the criminal mismanagement of our fishery by the Federal Government. This criminal mismanagement of our fishery by the Federal Government has been surpassed only by the criminal neglectance of the Provincial Government in all political parties in their refusal to put a stop to it. As I write these words the fishing fleets of 17 foreign nations are leagilly raping and pillaging the waters of NL 24/7. Meanhile the fisherpeople of NL are being forced out of the fishery at every turn of the road. Political leaders in NL in all parties are filling the air waves with the war cry "There is not enough fish" They are presently using this war cry to force NL fisherpeople out of the fishery. Their current scam to offer ansome early retirement packages to as many NL fisherpeople as possible and then, not reissue their licenses will slash the Nl fishing industry to the bone. Meanwhile the legal foreign overfishing is being increased in leaps and bounds. Do they really expect us to believe that the fishing fleets of 17 foreign nations would be so egar to fish our waters if there were no fish. Do they really expect us to believe that Russia, for example, sends it's fishing fleet all the way from the Black Sea, half way arount the world if there are so few fish. The truth is there are plenty of fish, but you have to be a foreigner to be geanted access to it by both federal and provincial levels of government.
Cyril Miller.