Why Did Richard Gillett Go on a Hunger Strike?

On April, 13 Richard Gillett went on a hunger strike because he felt that the future of rural Newfoundland and Labrador was facing a bleak future because of the mismanagement of our oceans that had sustained us for 500 years.

Over the last 30 years, we have seen just about everything involving our oceans — we went from the moratorium to the present day, but what did we learn?

Richard had two requests:

One for a review of the science and management of all provincial fish stocks, the other a review of the relationship of the fisheries union and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for Canada.

Two very legitimate questions. DFO has done a terrible job of managing the oceans and the FFAW has been responsible, with the help of DFO, for making too many decisions concerning the fisheries that has not been in line with what fisher people want.

On April 23, Richard ended an 11-day hunger strike because of ill health. While he did not succeed in getting what he wanted (yet), he did accomplish a lot. In my opinion, he is a brave man, who is concerned about this province and has done more than anyone since the moratorium to bring to the forefront the state of our oceans. During the 11 days, the message has gone far and wide and I’m hoping that both levels of government will be embarrassed enough to finally sit down and do something to make our oceans healthy again.

I’m very optimistic it can be done, if the will is there. The fish in the ocean is a public resource, it belongs to all of us and we have a part in making sure it is done right, so that our way of life can be preserved and our children and grandchildren can have a bright future.

(Ret) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett
Green Bay South, N.L.

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