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LETTER: Our fishery is not only neglected, but for sale

Crab bots sit on the deck of a boat in St. John's harbour.
Fishing boats in St. John’s harbour. — Telegram file photo

Imagine our centuries-old fishery taken over by a foreign country.

Imagine a minister of fisheries representing our province’s interest rubber-stamping this proposal.

Imagine the recommendation coming from a five-member all-male board with little experience.

The unimaginable above is truly our reality for our iconic industry.

There has been some public opposition to this undertaking, with the union and many in the media expressing their opposition and demanding our government reject any Danish proposals.

Denmark has recently bought interests in the Newfoundland fisheries, with the aim to now purchase additional fishing companies. Those Newfoundland and Labrador companies they have bought have been operating here for many years. By gaining access to processing plants, Denmark will also gain control over the fishing resource through fishermen who have been given quotas for various species.

There has been some public opposition to this undertaking, with the union and many in the media expressing their opposition and demanding our government reject any Danish proposals.

And yet, the premier (through his minister of fisheries) refuses to allow a public debate in our legislative assembly on one of the most important issues in our province.

According to a fish expert in Iceland, only four to five per cent of the cod is shipped (unprocessed) out of that country, and yet, we allow companies like OCI and other freezer trawler operators to ship huge quantities of unprocessed fish to foreign countries. This is one of the many reasons Icelandic fisheries are flourishing while our fishery continues to decline in practically every area.

These developments do not seem to register with our elected officials, nor the fact that thousands of jobs are exported with the unprocessed Canadian quotas. Just as importantly, those foreigners then ship the processed product back to the same markets which we developed over 50 years ago and will be in direct competition with us. Surely these facts should register with our elected politicians even if they fail to comprehend that the fishery resource is a common property resource, owned by the people, and they are responsible to the people for actions that will impact on the future survival of thousands of fishery participants.

If we are looking for jobs to get us out of this economic mess we are in, we need to look no further than to stop the leakage in our fish resources to other countries!

Imagine our once great fishery once again leading the way?

Unfortunately, both the premier and the minister of fisheries are obviously not aware of the huge negative impact politically motivated fishery policies have had, and continue to have, on the survival of our once great fishery.

Gus Etchegary
Community Fishery Alliance

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