No respect for our fishery
The history of the world has been one in which the life, welfare and provision of people are nearly totally dependent on regional natural resources available to the people of that area. A necessity for people in any part of the globe to have a decent level of subsistence, and an adequate standard of living, is that these people have access to these resources and the right to a fair share of the economic benefit of their development.
Since the beginning, rulers, whether they be ancient kings, dictators, emperors, or modern democratic parties, have usurped power and prosperity from resources for their own ends. This process put the mass of people to work on the resources for profit to the haves, making have nots and destitution for themselves.
For example, the present English democratic system involving privileges of the country’s land Lords and Barons, signed into law in 1215 by King John in the magna carta, is a classic example of the success — or failure, depending on your view — of elevating and ingraining the elite on the backs of the commoner.
This rule of English democracy has at its pinnacle the Queen, who is the richest women in England, perhaps the world, and made her the single largest landowner in all of the British Commonwealth. All this while millions of Britons are subsisting on unemployment, welfare and living at poverty level.
Using the English as an example was not to find fault with their way of governance, but to show that whomever controls the land, the natural resources and its development will control the wealth and prosperity of the world.
The Canadian government’s autocratic parliamentary treatment of this province’s fishing resource, which came under its control in 1949, has been no different in principle from that of dictatorship control and personal use of a natural resource. The Canadian government’s treatment and disrespect of a 500year-old Martine culture and seafaring people is a disgraceful display, and a violation of the human rights of her own citizens — the coastal peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador.
No doubt Canadian 21st century democracy is kinder to its people than governments of ancient times, but the division between the government elite and coastal poor is as wide as it ever was. For 60 years, Ottawa has taken for itself, and used in any way possible for its central strength, all the power and economic benefit it can from the fishery. In the process, it has abandoned the resource to its destruction by foreigners and ignored the plight of dissemination and despair of a once great people.
The Canadian government has pursued a nefarious path in its mismanagement of our fishery, one which allowed the destruction of the way of life of half the people who survived off it for 500 years. They shattered a marine culture, replacing a once proud and skilled workforce with demeaning unemployment.
They also have presided over 90 per cent of the resource’s destruction without as much as asking, to this day, why has this happened? Or, how can this destruction of the world’s most prolific fishing grounds be halted?
Recent comments in the media from fishers, mayors, union heads, local ministers, and the silence of our elected politicians in St. John’s and Ottawa, are a painful distance from what is needed to save the fishery. MOU’s, restructuring and rationalization are but the acceptance and submission to the age-old process of higher authorities taking the wealth and power out of our fishing heritage. They have milked it down to 10 per cent of its former greatness, and they continue to suck the last drops of benefit out of it for their own greed and position.
If the province does not stand up now and demand Ottawa protect the resource, it is over for us. Ottawa has no respect for our fishery; it never has. They have decided to give away our continental shelf and fish resource to the EU and the world.
If we in this province can’t get the Williams government to demand Ottawa make policy changes that will protect the resource for ourselves, not foreigners, the fishery will be no more.
Phil Earle Carbonear