We keep on destroying our livelihood
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 firstname.lastname@example.org