A Call for a Commission of Inquiry

This is an open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, all N.L. MHAs and all MPs for Canada


As stated by the late Alex Hickman, “the ocean is the backbone of our existence.”

My ancestors, the Rices, Parsons and Bartletts, came from England to this province of Newfoundland and Labrador many years ago to make a living from the ocean. And they did for hundreds of years until the ocean with its many species of fish started to fail (or get sick).

Historical catches of Northern cod landings from 1850 to 1960 averaged 200,000 metric tonnes (MT) per year. From 1960 to 1968, cod landings went from 200,000 MT to 810,000 MT. By 1975 landings were down to 150,000 MT and in 1991 down to zero, hence the moratorium in 1992.

The 2018 estimate of the reproducing segment of the cod population is now below what it was when the moratorium was established in 1991. This proves we are still mismanaging the ocean and this has to stop.

The destruction of the great Northern cod started in the 1960s when the foreigners, mostly Europeans, discovered the spawning grounds on the Hamilton Banks. These spawning grounds for hundreds of years had been protected by ice during the reproductive season. The foreigners with their ice-strengthened vessels were able to go in there and catch whatever they could without any restrictions. In 1968, cod landings were recorded at 810,000 MT and it went downhill from then on.

The only way we can fix this problem is to call a commission of inquiry into what happened in the past and correct the mistakes and move forward with a plan to rebuild our ocean. Only then will we be able to take back our place as one of the great fishing nations of the world so that our children can earn a decent living from the sea and make this province a place they are proud to call their own and our coastal rural communities can flourish again as they once did.

Canada has done a great injustice to our fishery. All we want is for the federal government to bring our oceans back to where they were when we entered Confederation in 1949 with this great country of Canada.

Is that too much to ask?

I believe I am speaking for all the people in this province when I say, we in Newfoundland and Labrador believe you owe us that.

I am calling on all of the MHAs in this province and all of the MPs in Ottawa, regardless of political stripe, to support me in this endeavour. Too long our fisheries have been managed by politics, we have to try another way.

Anyone reading this letter and want to support a call for a commission of inquiry can reply to me at wilfbartlett@hotmail.com


Wilfred Bartlett
Green Bay South, N.L.


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