Fish and bargaining chips

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada is considering putting Atlantic cod under the Species at Risk Act. If this should happen, it would be illegal to kill, harm, possess, harass, capture, collect, buy, sell or trade fish from the populations or destroy their critical habitat.

The so-called public consultation concerning this consideration is supposedly ongoing.

If you did not hear about it, you are not alone. Go to the web and log onto www.sararegistry.gc.ca and click on the link “public consultations.”

This is the only forum that I know of where you can express your views. You have until the end of January 2014 to do this.

Are the provincial and federal governments afraid to have community town hall meetings to inform the general public of such important issues?

Maybe they are hoping for no response from the public (silence is consent). Because this concern lies in the federal jurisdiction, the public consultation process is a Canadian issue. Who (I ask) in the rest of Canada gives a damn about what happens to Newfoundland and Labrador, including our substance and commercial fishery?

Again, silence is consent.

As we all know, Newfoundland and Labrador has been under a fishing moratorium since 1992 (that’s 21 years) and to date, the federal and provincial governments have not implemented any strategic action plans for the recovery of our fishery.

Here is a quote from the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada species profile on Atlantic cod, Newfoundland population from April 2010: “Threats to persistence include fishing (now halted), predation by fish and seals, and natural and fishing-induced changes to the ecosystem.”

You tell me that drilling, digging glory holes and laying pipelines on the floor of the Grand Banks doesn’t disrupt, change and destroy the natural habitat and spawning grounds of the Atlantic cod? (Such a hot topic, big money, government partnership, no blame.)

Just think of it: if someone came onto your property and did the same thing 24/7, would you stay or leave? It appears that the fish had no choice but to migrate to the nose and tail of the Grand Banks — right into the nets of our European friends.

The trade agreement between Canada and Europe allows for better access to Atlantic cod for the European processing industry.

A month ago, the premier was singing her own praises on the European free trade agreement and how it was such a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador and the fishery.

She then announced that raw fish from Newfoundland was going to the European Union for processing.

The premier also announced that $400 million would be allocated to help the fisherpeople, but said she didn’t know how the money would be spent.

I feel there is a Judas among us and the 30 pieces of silver turned into $400 million in today’s market.

I ask, why are we so generous to the Europeans when they are boycotting our seal products?

The World Trade Organization has ruled that while the European Union’s ban on imported seal products does undermine fair trade, these restrictions can be justified based on “public moral concerns.”

I can use this same argument against the Atlantic cod being put on the Species at Risk Act and justify it on “public moral concerns.”

The European Union exempts seal products resulting from Inuit and other aboriginal hunts along with those carried out solely to manage ocean resources.

We can kill seals, stick a note on the pelt stating that we killed those seals to protect the Newfoundland cod resources, therefore you have an obligation to buy them. Thank you very much from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The political mumbo-jumbo and lack of information from government to the people of Newfoundland on this issue should not be tolerated.

I feel the writing is on the wall and it goes like this: let’s sacrifice local Newfoundlanders by closing the inshore sentinel fishery as well as the sustenance fishery.

Then, with the help of the European Union, we will try and rebuild the offshore fish stocks on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.

In the past, many battles were fought for fishing rights around Newfoundland and Labrador — it was our heritage, and our livelihood.

In recent years this seems to matter less — especially with the influx of oil money in the province. I guess the European Union caught us looking glassy-eyed in that direction, but yet they can still see the value in our Atlantic cod.

Any Newfoundland politician who supports the closure of our fishery, either vocally or by being silent, may as well put their political future on the Species at Risk Act and swim away with the cod to Europe.

What we need are politicians who are willing to stand up and fight for the needs and rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

We need them to protect our fishery, our outports, our culture and our heritage for our children and grandchildren.

I believe that in order to grow as a people and a province, we have to remember where we came from. Our elected politicians need to understand this and have the guts to do what is right.

Are you that person, Dwight Ball?

Arthur Ryan writes from Paradise.

Organizations: European Union, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife, World Trade Organization

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Europe Atlantic

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Recent comments

  • What happened to the $1.4 Billion?
    December 04, 2013 - 12:24

    Regarding the $280 million dollars to be put into the fund by the Federal Government. Does anybody remember a few Federal Budgets ago, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, the Newfoundland and Labrador Government was due $2 Billion in the particular Budget of which I am referring I am referring to, but the Federal Government held back $1.4 Billion of it and nothing was explained for the reasons why. I am now wondering was this money held back to pay NAFTA for the screw up on Abitibi Bowaters, the Loan Guarantee for Muskrat Falls and now the $280 Million to be paid our province for immersing our fish resource for Canada's benefit, hook, line and sinker into the CETA Agreement? This is a story for The Telegram or some other Media to delve into. I would like an answer.

  • david
    December 04, 2013 - 11:58

    And the football gets kicked yet again. The 21 year moratorium is too long to tolerate any more, but not long enough that we might have learned a morsel from what happened here....under OUR watch. You can recast history all you like, we were 100% complicit partners in this. Will we ever grow up, or is our fate simply to remain ignorant of reality until the last one turns out the lights?

    • Dolf
      December 04, 2013 - 13:09

      Take cover everybody, David's out of his cage again.

  • Morris
    December 04, 2013 - 09:40

    "She then announced that raw fish from Newfoundland was going to the European Union for processing"- This comment along with most others cited is an absolute misrepresentation of the facts! If this government OR THE premier stated that raw fish " was going to the EU for processing" rest assured the FFAW and fishermen would already had and demonstrations and I would be joining them. Facts are facts Mr. Ryan.

  • Ern Bishop
    December 04, 2013 - 07:57

    This is an excellent summary and shud be heeded. We have been sold out again by our politivians. Be sure that PM Stephen's does not give away $280 million without some fabulous payback. If the Feds wanted the Cod to come back, they would have acted to do so since 1992 and they have only cut sience.