Fishermen rallying in Halifax

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: fishermen are pissed off and getting together to talk about how pissed off they are and how pissed off they are going to get.

The question is, will this pissing session amount to barely a dribble, or will it result in a full on dousing of the federal government’s camp fire?

Starting Wednesday, a group calling itself the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Movement is holding its first ever policy forum for Atlantic Canadian independent fishermen, at the Westin Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The group has it’s bladder all bunched up because of the changes and ebbs and flows they are seeing in fisheries policy and management, particularly as it applies to what they feel is the “corporatization” of the industry and licences in lobster, crab, groundfish and shrimp.

We’ve seen the idea of toying with the owner-operator and fleet separation policies (until the great MP Ryan Cleary stopped them! Phew. Thank God for Ryan. #sarcasm). We’re seeing cuts left right and centre in services and programs related to fish management and science. We’re seeing fishermen pick up even more of the tab on things that should be a federal responsibility (gear tags, log books, etc.) and we’re seeing the privatization of many services (at-sea observing, inspections, etc.) and it’s all happening at breakneck speed.

“The events of the last year made independent fishermen realize they need to have a united voice on the numerous changes that are taking place in the fishery,” said Christian Brun, the new group’s spokesperson and the executive secretary for the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

“The days are over when other fishery sectors and governments could circumvent the Canadian independent fleets or ignore them altogether.”

The group says there will be “100 delegates representing owner-operator fishermen from fishing communities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec” in attendance.

I intend to be among the handful of curious media who will turn up to witness the event first-hand, so hopefully we’ll have some follow up as to whether or not this is going to be an impact force — or if it’s just going to be more pissing against the wind.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com

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