Fueling the economy during trying times
Just got back to Twillingate after a few days in busy St. John’s and upset enough to take the time to write this letter. Once again during my travel, I heard on the open line shows the perennial discussion of whether government should be looking at the viability and feasibility of rural Newfoundland.
It makes me mad to hear people who have spent their entire lives in the shadow of Cabot Tower elucidating as to what should be the future of rural communities, which are in effect, the heart and soul of Newfoundland, not to mention their value as renewable economic engines in terms of their fishery, forestry and tourism potential.
Being involved in the fishery and tourism sectors, I will give government credit for their investment in recent years in promoting Newfoundland and Labrador as a prime tourist destination. A success story by any yardstick!
However, rural communities owe their very being to the fishery, and it is in this primary industry that government has shamefully abandoned their leadership role and allowed the industry, meaning the fish companies, to dictate fishery policy, usually to the detriment of individual fishermen and their communities.
Today quotas that could and should be caught by fishermen have been gobbled up by the corporate sector to the point where some fish processors are becoming less and less dependent on fishermen to provide raw material.
Furthermore, there can be no justification in government’s disallowing free enterprise to would-be entrepreneurs with a vision for primary or secondary processing, using their own personal capital, to establish small community plants. As it stands right now small boat fishermen cannot sell their limited quantity fish catches, especially pelagics, as there are few community plants left. Disallowing free enterprise in a democracy is a tactic generally practised by mafia members protecting their turf, and certainly not one conducive to a vibrant industry where competition assures the producer the best possible price for his product.
So yes, open line prophets, rural communities should and will survive mainly due to the spirit and will of the people, many of whom are daily making significant personal investment in those communities you view only as a detriment. Towns like Gander, for example, owe their continued prosperity to an infusion of new dollars from the fishery and tourism into their restaurants, malls and automobile dealerships. Dollars from small communities around the loop, Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton’s Harbour — all around the circle.
And in case some people inside The Overpass feel too smug, the last time I visited Costco, quite a few people with full baskets were wearing jackets with their long-liner logo across the back. Their new dollars don’t come from inside The Narrows!
And one final word to government— lead or get out of the way!
Today quotas that could and should be caught by fishermen have been gobbled up by the corporate sector to the point where some fish processors are
becoming less and less dependent on fishermen to
provide raw material.
— David Boyd writes from