We keep on de­stroy­ing our liveli­hood

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL -

On Aug. 5, Derek Butler of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Seafood Pro­duc­ers had a let­ter pub­lished de­fend­ing the com­mer­cial caplin fish­ery.

He wrote, “this year’s caplin fish­ery is un­der­way and by all re­ports there is abun­dant caplin be­ing found ... Yes, caplin landed to date have been smaller…”

He went on to say “the cur­rent man­age­ment of the fish­ery is based on pre­cau­tion.”

Go back in time, 1990, and fish­er­men were say­ing cod were get­ting smaller and scarcer and man­agers were say­ing the fish­ery is based on sci­ence and pre­cau­tion. In fact, we were be­ing told that it was im­pos­si­ble to fish any species in the ocean to ex­tinc­tion.

What Mr. Butler failed to men­tion that there are six mil­lion more harp seals in the ocean now than there were 30 years ago and their favourite food is caplin.

Both the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union and Mr. Butler have made state­ments that the amount of 30,000 tonnes of caplin fished this year is only a frac­tion of the amount taken by other preda­tors; 30,000 is the amount brought ashore. How much was dumped off­shore be­cause of poor qual­ity? We will never know.

If caplin is not im­por­tant to the cod, how come the caplin stocks have not ex­ploded since the mora­to­rium?

How come the last cou­ple of years a lot of cod have had very small liv­ers and are not fit to eat be­cause they are starv­ing? Is that the rea­son that the pro­ces­sors who Mr. Butler rep­re­sent are re­fus­ing to buy cod? Although fish­er­men have been al­lowed to catch cod since June, there has been only one day in this area that fish­er­peo­ple could sell.

Mr. Butler’s last state­ment was that “the op­er­a­tive word re­mains ‘bal­ance.’ We must pro­ceed with cau­tion ... as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and DFO have com­mit­ted to do­ing. Steady as she goes.”

Mr. Butler, “steady as she goes” doesn’t cut it, as the pas­sen­gers on the Ti­tanic found out.

Steady as she goes is the way the cod was man­aged be­fore the mora­to­rium. When the drag­gers couldn’t find any cod, the fish­ery was closed.

When the plants can’t get any more caplin to process, then the caplin fish­ery will shut down.

Have we learnt noth­ing from his­tory?

The caplin is the pre­ferred food for most ev­ery species in the ocean. Can’t we stop fish­ing caplin so that other species can sur­vive and mul­ti­ply?

If this province is to sur­vive we need a healthy ocean, and for that to hap­pen we all have to work to­gether to make it hap­pen. The last 40 years we have done the op­po­site — de­stroy, de­stroy!

We owe it to our chil­dren to make this right.

Capt. Wil­fred Bartlett (re­tired) Green Bay South wil­f­bartlett@hotmail.com

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