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Letter: Fishery proclamations much ado about nothing

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announces Thursday that the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association is getting an injection of $2.4 million to help improve the effectiveness, quality and sustainability of the fish and seafood sector.
Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. — SaltWire Network file photo

For those who missed it, the week beginning Feb. 5th gave us a great example of how the media is used to convince us what a what a great job is being done.

On day one we had a letter in The Telegram from the FFAW telling Dominic Leblanc what he should do ("Fishery corporations kick messaging into high gear," Feb. 5), and the next day we had Dominic Leblanc standing at a podium telling everyone what he has done or is about to do. Then about 30 seconds later we had a press release from the FFAW patting itself on the back for another great win.

I am referring, of course, to the news of how Dominic Leblanc is reversing some of Stephen Harper’s reforms plus making some changes to the Fisheries Act.

While I am not suggesting that the reforms and changes to the Fisheries Act are not needed, I am of the opinion that this week we have seen yet another attempt to hoodwink inshore fish harvesters and the general public.

What Leblanc has done and says he is going to do has done absolutely nothing to address the state of this province’s inshore fishery and rural Newfoundland and Labrador communities.
While enshrining the fleet separation and owner operator policies into the Fisheries Act is a good thing, it has been government policy for decades. While some people have tried to circumvent the “policy” in the past, just because it is now part of the Fisheries Act does not mean people will stop trying. Additionally, no one has shown any proof that by not being Canadian law they have been the cause of the decades-long decline in our inshore fishing industry and rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

We are decades away from knowing what impact enshrining the fleet separation and owner operator policies into law will have on the inshore fishery and our rural communities. What we do know for sure, now though, is if the current rate of decline, in both the inshore fishery and our rural communities, continues unabated for two or three more decades, there will be nothing left anyway.

What are the changes being made that could have an immediate impact?

Our federal government and the minister of Fisheries and Oceans will now have the power to protect habitat, to introduce legislation to rebuild fish stocks, and to “consider” the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge.

Wow! Isn’t that what you thought the Government of Canada was supposed to be doing since 1949?

Better late than never I guess, hey?

What is one thing that Dominic Leblanc could be doing that he has avoided doing?

The principle of adjacency should be applied to this province’s resources.

What that would mean is the hardworking men and women of this province and its rural communities would have first access to the resources off our shores. Just as is the case for the oil that is underneath the ocean floor, the first beneficiaries of the renewable resources that are underneath the ocean waves would be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

FFAW-Unifor is jumping for joy on Hamilton Avenue in St. John’s and their “friends” in the Canadian Liberal government are all smiles and giggles on Wellington Street in Ottawa. However, for those little people who invest, work hard and try to survive in the inshore fishery and our rural communities, nothing has changed.

Aren’t press releases just wonderful?
 

Harvey Jarvis
Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s

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