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Letter: Why Richard Gillett went on a hunger strike

Richard Gillett is shown during day nine of his hunger strike in a tent outside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans headquarters St. John's, in this Friday, April 21, 2017 handout photo. A Newfoundland fisherman is continuing his hunger strike over what he says is Ottawa's dire mismanagement of stocks, despite getting a phone call from federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, his mother says. Linda Gillett said Friday that her son Richard Gillett spoke with LeBlanc on Thursday, but isn't ready yet to give up his protest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Roger Gillett
Richard Gillett is shown during day nine of his hunger strike in a tent outside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans headquarters St. John's, in this Friday, April 21, 2017 handout photo. A Newfoundland fisherman is continuing his hunger strike over what he says is Ottawa's dire mismanagement of stocks, despite getting a phone call from federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, his mother says. Linda Gillett said Friday that her son Richard Gillett spoke with LeBlanc on Thursday, but isn't ready yet to give up his protest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Roger Gillett

On April 13, Richard Gillett went on a hunger strike because he felt that rural Newfoundland and Labrador was facing a bleak future due to the mismanagement of oceans that had sustained us for 500 years.

The last 30 years we have seen just about everything in our oceans at a critical stage; we went from the moratorium to the present day — what did we learn?

Richard had two requests: one for a review of the science and management of all provincial fish stocks, the other a review of the relationship of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Those are two very legitimate questions. DFO has done a terrible job of managing the oceans and the FFAW has been responsible, with the help of DFO, for making too many decisions concerning the fisheries that has not been in line with what fisherpeople want.

On April 23, Richard ended an 11-day hunger strike because of ill health. Richard did not succeed in getting what he wanted, yet he did accomplish a lot. In my opinion he is a brave man who is concerned about this province and has done more than anyone since the moratorium to bring to the forefront the state of our oceans. In those 11 days, that message has gone far and wide and I’m hoping that both levels of government will be embarrassed enough to finally sit down and do something to make our oceans healthy again. I’m very optimistic it can be done if the will is there.

The fish in the ocean is a public resource, it belongs to all of us, and we have a part in making sure it is done right so that our way of life can be preserved and our children and grandchildren can have a bright future.

 

Capt. Wilfred Bartlett, retired
Green Bay South
wilfbartlett@hotmail.com

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