I haven’t written much about the fishery lately because not many people seemed concerned about it or making their voices known and the previous government had the fishing industry on the back burner.
I recently read an article in The Telegram by Father Brophy about the proposed sale of Quinsea to a company in Denmark, Royal Greenland and listened to Gus Etchegary, Dr. Phil Earle, Leo Seamour, John Gillette and David Boyd. I thought to myself, we have a change of government in Ottawa and a change in this province, this is the start of 2016 and a few people are starting to talk about the importance of the fishery to this province and what it could do for our future if it was managed properly.
Now is the time, I believe, for people to talk about and urge our two governments to bring this very valuable and renewable resource to its full potential so that our rural communities can come alive again.
I grew up in a fishing community in Lushes Bight, spent 23 years in Deer Lake, gave up a profitable building construction company and went back to fishing in 1977 because I could not get the saltwater out of my blood. I fished until the moratorium — when I moved back fishing I brought five children with me.
Besides myself working in the fishery, I had two daughters who married fishermen, one married a boat builder, one married a fishplant worker and I had a son that fished with me and later worked at boatbuilding. I also had two granddaughters whose husbands worked at boat building — totalling eight people that got their living from the sea in my family.
Today, while all are working, they are no longer getting a living from the ocean because they had to move away from it because of the mismanagement and destruction of the fishery — they could no longer make a living at it.
I just use this as an example because you can go all over Newfoundland and Labrador and see the same examples.
If this province is to succeed, it has to get back to our traditional way of life.
We have three renewable industries in this province that have provided much needed jobs in the past, the fishery, forestry and farming and can do much for us and our grandchildren in the future and forever but only if they are managed properly and governments get their minds off oil and back to basics and the things that have sustained us for 500 years.
There is nothing wrong with oil if put in its proper place, as we fisherman would say (a bycatch) which is something you catch while targeting other species. Oil has been a bonus to this province but will not be around forever and should be put in its perspective.
Let 2016 be the year that we start planning our future. For too long we have stood back and allowed our politicians to do, not what we want, but what they wanted and we all know that hasn’t worked very well for this province. There are a lot of sound minds out there who know how to fix the fishery, but only if our politicians will listen and we have to bombard them with articles in the newspapers, on radio, emails, etc… We are down to the bottom of the barrel with nowhere to go, except up.
Get involved because as the late Alex Hickman stated (a quote I will never forget) “the ocean is the backbone of our very existence.”
(Ret) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett
Green Bay South, N.L.