DFO’s archives leaving N.L.

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Andrew Robinson
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NDP’s Cleary bemoans loss of library materials; department says much of collection digitized

Work to consolidate Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) libraries from 11 to four across Canada is underway in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Some of the materials stored in a building on Mews Place in St. John’s are being packed away to be shipped to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia. But there are concerns some of those materials will be lost forever.

“The Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries are unlike any other fisheries on the East Coast of Canada, or in (all of) Canada,” said St. John’s South-Mount Pearl NDP MP Ryan Cleary.

“We have all sorts of information about the unique Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries that are no longer going to be housed in DFO Newfoundland, and I see that as yet another affront in a long list of affronts to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in terms of our fishery and how it has been managed by the Government of Canada.”

The library at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre closed several years ago. It served DFO staff along with students and staff from Memorial University and provincial government employees. Materials from the site were subsequently placed in storage.

Federal government plans to consolidate DFO libraries were announced in the 2012 budget.

A DFO spokesman told The Telegram in an email that all currently available resources will remain available to DFO employees and the public. He said much of DFO’s collection has been digitized, adding more digitization work has been done since plans were announced to consolidate the libraries.

Documents from St. John’s that are not going to Bedford have been offered to departmental staff, and the spokesman said universities and other local groups have been contacted to gauge interest in acquiring non-DFO related materials.

The remainder of those materials will be recycled or “disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner.”

A former DFO official who contacted The Telegram raised concerns about the potential loss of data relevant to the fishery’s history in Newfoundland and Labrador, including annual reports from the first half of the 20th century and historic monographs documenting early marine exploratory expeditions in the 1800s and early 20th century.

Cleary calls the move to take materials out of the province a further step in efforts to reduce DFO’s effectiveness.

“If you look at the big picture of all of this — DFO library, constant cuts over the years — this follows the trend of what’s been happening.”

Organizations: DFO, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Mews Place Nova Scotia East Coast Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre Bedford

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  • NL Taxpayer
    September 20, 2013 - 13:38

    Harper and his Con thugs would like to see us disappear. We won't vote for them so they will do whatever they can to marginalize us. They will try to take away our identity. They will reduce our offshore rescue abilities in an effort to show their power over our lives. I truly believe they would rather see us dead if we refuse to support them. I, for one, will never support their dismantling of Canada as we know it. Our local Cons are walking lock-step with them with their Official Secrets Act and total disregard of the facts and common sense with Muskrat Falls. They are pouring all our money into it while reducing Healthcare, Education and funding for Social Services and just recently attacking Pensions of Public servants who have paid into this fund for many years. I'm sure we won't see them touch their own gold-plated, indexed pensions!

  • Daniel Corbett
    September 19, 2013 - 09:41

    Nova Scotia is probably not the best possible location for the storage of NL Fishery Records, too close to The Atlantic Salt Breezes . Have these Federal Visionaries considered Saskatoon Saskatchewan as a potential location , that move would keep the Atlantic Salt Spray and Smell off the fishey records. To help defray the cost of shipping, DFO. might contact the NL Dept. of Justice who quite possibly would have some additional files they fervently wish to poke away never again to see the light of day. The NL Dept.of Justice would be more than happy to share the cost of shipping documents far, far away. If DFO were to enter into such an arrangement with the NL Dept. of Justice it would be well advised to get all arrangements in writing and hold tight to your copy! Daniel Corbett

  • Marty
    September 19, 2013 - 08:01

    If information is digitalized it will actually be more readily available to more people than when physically located at the Library at DFO HQ on Whitehills Road. My only concern is of any loss of jobs which might result.DFO, as well as some other Feeral departments, are being gutted in this province by the transfer of responsibilities to other provinces.

  • Ranter
    September 19, 2013 - 05:22

    This is more about closing down Newfoundland. Why move it to Nova Scotia? Is that where Canada begins? Time to move out of Canada and stop paying rent to a landlord that never wanted us.