Fish­er­men need more re­spect


Dear edi­tor,

The fish­eries has been in the news lately, mainly be­cause of the MOU re­port stat­ing that the fish­eries should be down­sized by elim­i­nat­ing fish­er­men and fish plants. There is also the mis­con­cep­tion that the fish­eries is a last re­sort, which means that if peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas are un­able to get a good job they would go fish­ing.

Fish­ing is an hon­or­able job, the same as farm­ing, min­ing, con­struc­tion, forestry, etc. All these in­dus­tries have their ups and downs. I know peo­ple in all in­dus­tries who have done very well, while oth­ers have strug­gled to make a liv­ing.

I my­self fished with my grand­fa­ther as a boy. At age 17 I moved to Deer Lake to get enough money to get a boat. I worked at elec­tri­cal work, con­struc­tion, cut­ting pulp wood, op­er­at­ing a saw mill, driv­ing a skid­der, car­pen­ter work, driv­ing a taxi and for six years owned and op­er­ated a very suc­cess­ful build­ing con­struc­tion com­pany.

Af­ter 23 years in Deer Lake, I fi­nally had enough money to buy a boat. In 1976 I gave up my busi­ness in Deer Lake, bought a 60-foot long­liner, and moved to Brighton, where I fished un­til the mora­to­rium.

I went fish­ing not be­cause it was a job of last re­sort but be­cause I wanted to re­turn to my roots and try an­other busi­ness and as in all other in­dus­tries there were years when fish­ing I had good ones and bad ones. When I started fish­ing, you had very few reg­u­la­tions but to­day you are reg­u­lated to death.

At the same time that our pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, some of our fish pro­ces­sors and the fish­eries union are try­ing to down­size our in­shore fish­eries, we are al­low­ing for­eign coun­tries to rape what few fish that is left around the Grand Banks.

We never did have a mora­to­rium on the fish­eries, just a mora­to­rium on our fish­er­men. If these for­eign fish­ing ships had been driven from our waters when a mora­to­rium was called, we prob­a­bly would not be hav­ing a dis­cus­sion on down­siz­ing the in­shore fish­ery now. I be­lieve we would have a much health­ier fish­ery and a more pros­per­ous ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador.

There are a lot of peo­ple in the fish­ery who are not into it be­cause of last re­sort. They are like my­self; they are in it be­cause they wanted to and many could have done any­thing that they wanted to with their life be­cause they are very in­tel­li­gent peo­ple. Fish­ing is one of the most dan­ger­ous pro­fes­sions and many are lost to the ocean each year.

We are fac­ing a short­age of food in this world be­cause of the bulging pop­u­la­tion and our abil­ity to de­stroy our oceans and our farm lands. There are two types of peo­ple who are sup­ply­ing our foods — fish­er­men and farm­ers — and both have to fight the el­e­ments of the weather.

So let’s show them a lit­tle more re­spect for what they do. Wil­fred Bartlett


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