Floundering Like a Ship With No Rudder

When going through my files recently, I came across a letter from former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Peckford, dated Dec. 21, 1979, entitled Northern Cod Stocks.

One thing in that letter that really sticks out is the statement “the government of Canada is in the process of establishing the shape of things to come.”

What I can say 43 years later is things have only gotten worse with no inquiry into what happened and no plan is in place to try and restore the great cod stocks that we once had around our shores that kept this province of ours alive, our reason for being here.

The managers of our fisheries, the federal government in Ottawa, keep floundering along like a ship with no rudder.

Our provincial government is consumed with the oil and the municipal leaders of our fishing communities have forgotten all about the province that our ancestors built around the fisheries. The fighting Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are all gone.

Tom Best, Pat Cabot, John Efford, Cabot Martin and Gus Etchegary — they gave it their best, but are gone now, with no one left to carry on the fight. As Gerald O’Brian said at Cabot Martin’s funeral, “they went down, but by God, they went down with guns blazing.”

Enclosed here is a copy of historical catches of cod by foreign fleets to understand what happened then and is still happening today. Foreigners still fish our waters, while our fishermen have to stay on shore and our plants are closed. It’s a crime.


Landings of Northern cod in 1969 — 753,690 metric tonnes

Landings of Northern cod in 1979 — 166,899 metric tonnes (Peckford’s letter)

Landings of Northern cod in 1993 — zero metric tonnes (Northern cod moratorium)


Can you imagine, as Dr. Phil Earle and Gus Etchegary said many times, the billions of dollars that cod would be worth today and the jobs it would provide for this province? It’d too bad we haven’t the guts of the Icelanders.


Wilfred Bartlett

Conception Bay South

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