It’s about time

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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