Top News

LETTER: Standing up for our fishery

Boats involved in the snow crab fishery are seen at Bonavista in this file photo.
Boats involved in the snow crab fishery in Bonavista. — Telegram file photo

A famous Newfoundland and Labrador politician was once asked about the impact of seals on the fish stocks off our coast. He replied using the wit many good Newfoundland orators are known for and said something to the effect of well, they don’t eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

He was absolutely right then and the same holds true today as we see thousands of tons of fish consumed daily off our shores by these cute-looking mammals with voracious appetites for cod, crab and other lucrative species; the same fish our harvesters and processors depend on to put bread on their family’s table.

While this ongoing ecological phenomenon is nothing new, the degree to which the seal population has exploded and its impact on our fish stocks certainly is. Unless something is done to create a healthier balance within that ecosystem, stories of the cod and crab fishery will become something for the history books. 

And what about our premier and provincial fisheries minister? What of our MHAs, particularly those whose districts are heavily reliant on the fishery? What of our seven MPs? You can hear the crickets chirping.

Sadly, nobody in a leadership position within our province seems to be willing to do anything about it, despite the fact that our fishery is a billion-dollar industry that provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs throughout our province every year.

Sure, from time to time someone will bring up seal predation on “Open Line,” or it may get raised by the fisheries union, but whatever becomes of it? You might get a cookie-cutter response from the federal minister of fisheries or a spokesperson from upalong: “We are committed to working towards finding solutions and in supporting the sealing industry of Newfoundland and Labrador…” Blah, blah, blah. However, what actions are taken? Is Ottawa serious about dealing with this issue or are they just trying to pacify us until the issue gets raised again, months or years down the road?

And what about our premier and provincial fisheries minister? What of our MHAs, particularly those whose districts are heavily reliant on the fishery? What of our seven MPs? You can hear the crickets chirping.

We have a huge problem that is impacting not just rural Newfoundland and Labrador, but also urban areas that benefit from the fishery, from both a supply and service industry point of view. And when rural people earn income from the fishery, where do you think they spend the majority of that money? The bottom line? It affects us all.

So, I challenge the premier, our provincial fisheries minister and our seven MPs to come together, meet with industry players and develop a plan to lobby our federal government to deal with this very serious matter. We all know seals eat fish and we all know there are too many seals. We need more innovation to develop an expanded line of seal products to ensure that the whole mammal can be utilized. We need to open new markets to sell our products, and we need to further educate the world about our products and about our humane hunt.

Most importantly, we need to have the guts as a nation to stand up against these animal rights organizations and their false propaganda. Other countries have no problem in doing what is right to protect their fish stocks, so why should this country be any different?

Paul Lane
Independent MHA – District of Mount Pearl-Southlands

Recent Stories