Can somebody please tell me how a $1 billion industry that employs upwards of 20,000 people in the province gets so little ink in the budget?
The government talking heads can’t seem to spit the word out at all without swallowing their forked tongues. The budget speech makes so little mention of the industry that the word “fishery” is never used. There is mention of a bunch of aquaculture money and more vague talk about marketing and industry value, but nothing about the REAL contribution of the industry to the economy (note: it’s keeping rural Newfoundland and Labrador alive) or any kind of forward thinking plan for the industry’s future.
OK, so maybe I’m just being spiteful and reactionary.
Maybe a look at the numbers will tell a different story.
Maybe they put their money where their mouth … isn’t.
Let’s look at the list of so-called strategic investments the government slapped into fisheries (where apparently there’s still more than $10 million not spent from last year’s budget — now, just how the HELL does that happen when there’s an industry calling out for co-ordinated marketing and industry rationalization?)
First off, $12 million will be pumped into aquaculture via $8.6 million for a development fund and a wharf, and another $3.4 million for capital equity.
The actual wild fishery was tagged for $2.6 million for marketing stemming from the Fisheries MOU (yeah. Surrrrrre you are. I mean, seriously, we’ve really been marketing our products just SO well haven’t we? #sarcasm).
Another $2.2 million into the Fisheries Technology and Opportunities program — which is basically the program the department uses to fund its press releases with money for this and that (most of it goes to processing companies and Marine Institute for research and tech projects, which is fine, I guess).
Another $1.4 million for the lobster licence buy-outs, $850,000 for make work for the people who have had their jobs lost with the litany of plant closures, $300,000 for a Coastal Oceans and Management Strategy and $100,000 for sealing promotion and advocacy (yeah, that should really show those multi-million dollar funded animal rights groups! They won’t know what hit them! No pun intended…)
By the way, stop to consider this: government spent about the same amount of money funding Republic of Doyle last year (and again this year it seems) as they did on everything listed in that previous paragraph.
Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com
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