There is an old saying that describes the current push to revitalize the industry that this province was founded on.
The industry I am referring to is the inshore fishery and the old saying is “putting the cart before the horse.”
While I do have some respect for an initiative that is attempting to ease the pain caused by the declines in shellfish stocks, I am troubled by the complete lack of attention given to the reason we find ourselves in repetitive boom and bust cycles. It appears that those who are promoting the current transition to groundfish plan have completely forgotten the primary reason for the 1992 Northern cod moratorium.
We are now being bombarded by the provincial government and fisheries union people singing the praises of the Icelandic model for cod.
The Icelandic model is based on delivering a product that is top quality and having a consistent supply. The Icelandic model also makes sure that all of the fish, its flesh, skin, blood and bones are fully utilized. The success of the Icelandic model is also heavily influenced by the amount of cod available to the model.
In 2017, the Icelandic cod quota was approximately 250,000 tonnes.
Clearly, the Icelanders have done a great job on maximizing the benefits from their cod resource.
However, in order for the Icelandic model to achieve its current level of success, one very important decision had to be made and actions implemented to provide the basis for success.
Iceland took control of what was theirs.
To get control, they nearly went to war with Britain. To keep control, Iceland has been expelling countries that do not follow Iceland’s quota and management regulations.
What has Canada done to protect the renewable resources on our continental shelf?
Our provincial government and union people are ranting and raving about how bright our inshore fisheries future will be if we follow the Icelandic model. I think it is not only idiotic, but it reflects a kindergarten mentality that ignores the foundation the Icelandic model was built on and the reason it has been so successful.
Iceland took control of their fisheries resources. NAFO, or Britain, or the Faroe Islands do not tell Iceland what to do. Iceland tells them.
While our shrimp fishery has been hit with drastic quota cuts, foreigners are still catching shrimp on our continental shelf. When a cod or a turbot finds its way into the path of a foreign trawler, instead of contributing to our transition to groundfish it ends up on a restaurant plate in Russia.
Control of our fisheries resources on our continental shelf is the “horse” that will pull this province’s inshore fishery away from its catastrophic boom and bust cycles.
Our provincial government must stop trying to push a cart that delivers money from CETA and other transitional funds. Instead, it should try and muster some of the courage displayed by our citizens who fought at Beaumont Hamel.
Unless Canada is forced to adopt the Icelandic model for the fisheries resources on our continental shelf, rural Newfoundland Labrador and our inshore fishing industry will surely die.
Portugal Cove – St. Philips, N.L.