Big changes in a short time

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Uncle Steve Harper must have lost his pogey or didn’t get his stamps because there’s no doubt the grumpy old fellow is drawing in the belt on expenses these days.

There’s hardly enough cash for a pack of smokes and a case of beer, so he’s been slashing and burning the budget wherever possible to keep the kitty stocked.

And by God, nothing is safe – he’ll cut back on the church collection plate, the drugstore costs and the light bill if he has to, so why on earth would the fishing industry be a concern.

This year fishermen are going to be awash in a sea of changes that a few of them might not even realize are coming, and are going to cost them a pretty penny (or maybe a nickel, since we don’t make pennies anymore).

Consider the list of changes that are coming as we speak:

First off, fishermen this year are required to use biodegradable twine in crab pots. Okay, no biggie. Let’s move on.

The fish licencing process — something every fisherman deals with every year for every species they fish — will be moved to an online system. Okay, now we’re getting into the heavy stuff!  By April 1 — April Fool’s Day, ironically — of 2013 the system will completely replace the counter service fishermen have used pretty successfully for many years. Will chaos ensue? We shall see in the next few months.

Moving right along, this year fishermen are going to be picking up the FULL tab for all sorts of management and conservation items — things like at sea observers, gear tags, logbooks, etc. This means the harvesters will be picking up the cost for what is absolutely a federal responsibility, and that is the conservation of the resource it is supposed to be managing!  Imagine!

Furthermore, the feds will no longer be supplying the gear tags — it will all be farmed out to private companies and organizations! They’re washing their hands of it completely!

Moving over to Transport Canada, you’ll find Uncle Steve’s not sparing the rod there either as it applies to fishermen. In the small vessel fleet (under 150-tonne, less than 24-metre class) Transport Canada will be more strictly enforcing how inspectors do their above and below water inspections which means increased costs.

And the guys with the big fishing boats, wow, they are really in for it. The large fishing vessel category (more than 24 metres, 150 tonnes) will likely end up having to comply with class and the inspections won’t even be done by Transport Canada anymore — they will instead end up having vessel certifications done by privately run classification societies, such as Lloyd’s Register, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), or Det Norske Veritas (DNV).

And we haven’t even talked about the cuts to science and the like (you can bet your arse fish science will be in private hands in the not too distant future – mark my words).

And ALL of this stuff has happened or is happening this year, right now!

What we will end up with an industry paying a lot more money for a lot less service, and on a viciously tight deadline.

It’s kind of like how we are ALL getting screwed over by the falsely inflated property values that have driven municipal taxes up to disgusting levels that should be causing us all to revolt en masse with pitchforks and torches alight.

More money.

For less service.

I guess it was ever thus.

At least Uncle Steve’s beer money won’t run out I guess.

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

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