It’s about time
The provincial government announced a bold move Friday. It plans to get into the fisheries science research business.
Good for Premier Danny Williams, Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman and all those involved in this initiative.
It means an initial $14 million investment to undertake research programs. Included is over $5 million to charter a research vessel.
These research vessels are not cheap, as one realizes, but there will be calls on government to build its own research vessel in a local yard such as Peter Kiewit in Marystown.
Premier Williams said in his press conference his announcement comes on the 18th anniversary of the groundfish moratorium in 1992. Why did it take so long?
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians like to grumble and complain about injustices they feel have been done to them. The biggest injustice claimed was the removal of control over the province’s own fishing industry, when the local government led by Joey Smallwood negotiated a ‘confederation’ with Canada in 1949 - at the insistence of England.
That confederation meant transfer to the federal government in Ottawa all management of our offshore resources, in particular our fishing resources.
The groundfish moratorium came 40 years later and it’s only now - 61 years after confederation - a provincial government has taken on this initiative.
It’s a good idea, yes. And it will mean more than ‘ lip service’ for management of our offshore fisheries as is the case now.
This new research initiative will put statistics and collaborating global information in this province’s files. It will now be able to talk ‘apples to apples’ and ‘oranges to oranges’ with the federal government, and even NAFO (North Atlantic Fisheries Organization), when it comes to quota decisions, conservation and tradeoffs with foreign fishing countries.
It will provide vital information, as the new research head - Scientist Dr. George Rose - says. The provincial government must now take this information and use it to the benefit of our residents.
It’s an initiative whose time has come but is long overdue.