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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How Many Newfoundlanders Does it Take to Destroy a Cod Stock?

How many comments have I read in Canadian papers lately about the big mistake Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn made by allowing a limited fishery off the Newfoundland and Labrador coast this year? How many supposed experts have suddenly crawled out of the woodwork to warn us that the sky is falling once again? I can’t tell you the numbers, but I can tell you there are clearly a lot more people concerned with a few fish being caught in Newfoundland and Labrador than there has ever been about anything else the in the Province.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for conservation. I believe that if the stocks really are too low to support limited fishing then there shouldn’t be any. Perhaps there is reason for concern about the announced commercial fishery and the quotas issued there, I don’t know. Having said that, I don’t believe for a minute that this quota, or the fact that Uncle John and his Aunt Martha’s plan to throw a line over the side of the boat, is the root of the problem.

We all know that the problems plaguing the recovery of the Atlantic fish stocks are complex and involve commercial overfishing, habitat destruction by draggers, changing water temperatures and a myriad of other issues. All of those issues need to be addressed if there is ever going to be any hope of rebuilding those stocks. That said, I really don’t see how everyone can say with a straight face that because a few souls in poor old Newfoundland and Labrador want to catch a meal or two during the summer months that it will devastate the remaining stocks.

As I said, if the stocks are really that bad, go ahead and ban both the commercial and recreational fisheries, but before you do I would suggest that the real culprits be shut down as well. First stop the foreign fleets from fishing the spawning grounds on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, ban bottom dragging that’s destroying fish habitat and seriously examine the effects of warmer water temperatures due to global warming. Yes, it might be easy for the mouth pieces of some Canadian papers to simply blame Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans for killing off the stocks but what will shutting down this limited fishery really accomplish?

I for one love a good meal of cod and I can tell you with out a doubt that there is no shortage of it to be found anywhere. I can go into any Sobey’s, IGA or Dominion supermarket and buy all the cod I want. I can visit any restaurant and order fish and chips until I turn blue eating it. Where does it all come from? I’m sure it doesn’t just magically appear on store shelves, perhaps a gift from the fish fairy. In fact I have yet to see a shortage of the stuff regardless of the time of year.

I for one would love an accounting of exactly where all of this fish is coming from before anyone demands that DFO shut down Ma and Pa in their 12 foot aluminum boat. Is it supply coming from by-catch of other species? How much of the supply is the result of catches designed for supposed “scientific” purposes? How much is illegally caught and how much is being imported? All of these seem like valid questions to me because if the majority of this abundant supply is locally caught, and I believe it is since I know freshly caught fish when I taste it, there is a much bigger problem here than a small sanctioned fishery.

Perhaps what should be called for is not the cancellation of the limited fishery just announced but a thorough investigation of the existing retail cod supply. Regardless what the official story is, it appears, at least on the surface that the cod moratorium instituted in 1992 is little more than a smoke screen covering up an underground fishery that by its very existence would show a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude by both our federal and provincial fisheries officials.

On the plus side, I know if I catch 5 fish this summer that means I won’t have to buy my fish from retailers or restaurants for a while. I don’t see that as harming the fish stocks at all, in fact I see it as potentially disrupting an underground economy which may result in little or no difference in the overall numbers of fish since it will lower the demand at those retail outlets. Now where’s the salt pork and hard tack?


Patriot said...

Hi folks,

I would have included Labrador in the title of this one but I didn't want WJM to get all upset and say that Labrador(ian's) are not destroyers of cod or something of that nature.

Sorry Wallace I couldn't resist the little dig. Actually I was just trying to keep the title to a certain size limit imposed by one of the organizations who republish my commentaries.

MrChills said...

Although a part of me feels that this announcement was a political decision to take attention away from all the problems with our fishery, I am ecstatic!

Whenever I think about my childhood, my best memories were ‘Out da Bay’ jiggin’ with my family. As far as I am concerned it is a god given right for any Newfoundlander to go out and catch a meal of cod. The problem; however, is that Newfoundlanders are some of the greediest people on this planet and would abuse that right.

Whatever the case, I get to come home once a year (twice if I am extremely lucky) and to be able to go out to my cabin, catch an arm load of fish and eat a meal that evening of fresh fish is something I have been waiting a very long time for.

Limited inshore fishing is not the problem nor has it ever been the problem with our fishery.

MrChills said...

I would have included Labrador in the title of this one but I didn't want WJM to get all upset and say that Labrador(ian's) are not destroyers of cod or something of that nature.

Funny that you mentioned this… I have been traveling for the better part of the last month and returned home this week to find a pile of ‘The Independent’s’ in my mail box.

Upon reading an issue from last month sometime, I noticed a ‘Letter to the Editor’ from your good friend WJM , or at least I think it was him, I could at least sense the same hatred in the writing ;) Any case, he was moaning about Labrador being a part of “the mainland” and that ‘The Independent’ has an Island vs. the Mainland mentality and that it was not fair to Labrador.

Then he signed his name as follows:

William Whatever

Hmmm… How many posts have I read across the land of Blog from WLM moaning about people leaving Labrador off the title of Newfoundland, and that it always should be Newfoundland & Labrador then he proceeds to sign his name with just Labrador… Ironic don’t you think?

WJM said...

Someone who lives in Newfoundland is perfectly entitled to sign their location as Newfoundland. That's the place they live in. BUT IT'S NOT THE PROVINCE THEY LIVE IN. There's nothing "ironic" about it.

Nothing wrong with saying St. John's is in Newfoundland. It is. But to say it's the capital of Newfoundland is wrong. Newfoundland isn't a province, and Newfoundland isn't the name of a province.

Similarly, Cartwright is in Labrador. But it would be just as wrong to say that there's a Labrador government office in Cartwright as it would be to say there's a Newfoundland government one.

Understand yet? Place != province.

You will eventually.

WJM said...

How many comments have I read in Canadian papers lately about the big mistake Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn made

1) Which Canadian papers?

2) Do you include Newfoundland and Labrador papers in "Canadian papers"? Why or why not?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the name of our province had to change anyway? It just lends credence to the Labrador separatists and furthers Quebec an Canada's desire to own labrador.

George said...

In response to your articles question.

Depends on if they are working for the Department Federal Fisheries DFO or not.

WJM said...

I don't understand why the name of our province had to change anyway?

I don't understand why the name of our province had to be the name of the island part of it anyway.

It just lends credence to the Labrador separatists


and furthers Quebec an Canada's desire to own labrador.


If it's wrong to "desire to own Labrador", then are Newfoundlanders also wrong?

Is it OK for some people to want to "own" Labrador, but not others?

Anonymous said...

This action will allow 5 million pounds of fish to be caught. So much for recovery. NLians will not be happy until the last fish is pulled from the water.

Anonymous said...

Crap. My transfer outta here and back to Alberta got cancelled. Crap.

BNB said...

Foreign Trawlers and Draggers get quotas, Commercial fisherman haul in more Cod "by-catch" than licensed catch encouraged and dismissed by DFO regulation, the seals are taking a share, globally marine species are changing population wise and physical median size, abandoned driftnets float through the waters, Nova Scotians have always been allowed to take a cod fish.

In light of all of this, what gets the attention of the federation West of Halifax? George and Maggy hoping in the punt for five cod.

Tell me mainstream Canada doesn't have a hate-on for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Case in point S$#*-for-brains in the above post.