‘From Fish­ing Boat to Ottawa’

The Compass - - NEWS - Bur­ton K. Janes bur­tonj@nfld.net Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Compass ev­ery week. He can be reached at bur­tonj@nfld.net. — Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Canadian prov­ince with its own

Gor­don Snow has earned the right to weigh in on the col­lapse of the fish­ing in­dus­try on the east coast of Canada, specif­i­cally in New­found­land and Labrador.

The Har­bour Grace na­tive has over 35 years of fish­eries ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the Canadian gov­ern­ment and pri­vate in­dus­try in re­source man­age­ment and har­vest­ing through to mar­ket­ing. He has also con­sulted with gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try, and trav­eled to for­eign fish­ing na­tions and in­ter­na­tional fish mar­kets.

He has now dis­tilled his con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence in a can­did and thought­ful book, “From Fish­ing Boat to Ottawa: A Jour­ney in the Fish­ing In­dus­try.” An in­sider’s ac­count of fish­eries mis­man­age­ment, it serves as a cau­tion­ary tale that tack­les head-on what went wrong and what can be done about it.

“The fish­ing in­dus­try is con­stantly chang­ing,” Snow ad­mits, “and man­agers in the public and pri­vate sec­tors have to man­age for both to­day and to­mor­row.”

In the first part of his book, the au­thor pro­vides in­for­ma­tion of a per­sonal na­ture.

Dur­ing the 1940s and 50s, when he was grow­ing up in the Con­cep­tion Bay town, it was, he re­calls, “rel­a­tively pros­per­ous and had most ameni­ties.”

His fam­ily took part in the fish­ery, join­ing sev­eral other fisher-fam­i­lies yearly to es­tab­lish a sum­mer res­i­dence on Har­bour Grace Is­land to be closer to the fish­ing grounds.

In 1960, Snow de­cided on a ca­reer change by writ­ing an ex­am­i­na­tion for a po­ten­tial job with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. One of the suc­cess­ful can­di­dates, he was “ready to begin my ca­reer in fish­eries, al­beit dif­fer­ent from the an­ces­tral fish­ery that em­ployed my grand­fa­ther and fa­ther.”

He worked at the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral lev­els, apart from a two-year stint with pri­vate in­dus­try.

By 1984, he was back at the De­part- ment of Fish­eries and Oceans, where he worked un­til his re­tire­ment in 1995.

Not sur­pris­ingly, a life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence in the fish­ery had, he says, “helped to cre­ate def­i­nite opin­ions on the sub­ject.”

In the sec­ond part of his book, Snow shares some of those “def­i­nite opin­ions” by re­flect­ing on the fu­ture of the fish­ing in­dus­try.

Of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans is the clo­sure of the 2J3KL cod fish­ery on July 2, 1992, by then Min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Oceans John Cros­bie.

It was, Snow says, “the mos t pro­found an­nounce­ment ever for the fish­ing in­dus­try.”

Both “the fish­ing cul­ture and so­cial en­vi­ron­ment” of the prov­ince and othe r a reas in At­lantic Canada were rad­i­cally al­tered in one fell swoop.

“It is be­yond com­pre­hen­sion,” Snow notes, “that such a large stock of fish could be­come over­fished to such an ex­tent.”

He adds that, “the demise of this cod stock did not hap­pen overnight ... No other species of­fered such flex­i­bil­ity in har­vest­ing and pro­cess­ing, but now it was no longer avail­able.”

Snow is no doom- and- gloom prophet; his writ­ing is both de­scrip­tive and pre­scrip­tive.

“New­found­land and Labrador is in an en­vi­able po­si­tion for fur­ther devel­op­ment of a vi­able and sus­tain­able fish­ing in­dus­try,” he sug­gests.

A new era in sus­tain­able fish­eries is on the hori­zon, but only if what Snow calls “fun­da­men­tal changes” are in­tro­duced “to al­low the trans­for­ma­tion to oc­cur.”

He be­lieves that “op­ti­mism can still pre­vail pro­vid­ing the lead­er­ship in all facets of the in­dus­try has the ca­pa­bil­ity to lead the way ... There­fore, it ap­pears pru­dent for the prov­ince to have a frame­work in place for long-term re­new­able re­sources.”

The prov­ince, he con­tin­ues, is in a po­si­tion to play a key role “with­out deem­ing to usurp author­ity away from DFO, the pro­ces­sors or the fish­er­men.” The pur­pose is not to save a way of life, but to make a bet­ter life for par­tic­i­pants in the fish­ery.

The pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter of Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture can take the lead in craft­ing a prac­ti­cal frame­work for in­sti­tut­ing change. Some of Snow’s re­com- men­da­tions fol­low.

• De­velop an ad­vo­cacy la­bel to in­di­cate to the world that fish re­sources around the prov­ince are sus­tain­able and har­vested in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner.

• Work with those con­cerned to de­velop a new body to re­place the North­west At­lantic Fish­eries Or­ga­ni­za­tion that only gives re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­cess to ad­ja­cent states.

• Make pro­vi­sion for the estab­lish­ment of a new com­pany to man­age off­shore har­vest­ing.

• It is in­evitable that the pro­cess­ing in­dus­try has to un­dergo some con­sol­i­da­tion — that could mean merg­ers, buy­outs, joint ven­tures or pur­chases.

• The pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter can es­tab­lish a desk at arm’s length to han­dle merg­ers, pur­chases, re­tire­ments and buy­outs among fish­ing en­ter­prises.

Only time will tell whether or not for­ward-think­ing lead­ers are com­mit­ted to tak­ing the ini­tia­tive in en­act­ing des­per­ately needed change.

Snow’s self-pub­lished book is printed by Friesen­Press of Vic­to­ria, BC, and is avail­able on­line, and at Chap­ters and Costco in St. John’s. sport­ing his cap as a water­mark, a re­luc­tant scholar wear­ing a dunce cone was the water­mark. But, in ei­ther case, the sheets were la­belled foolscap.

“Still at it, Harry,” says Dear­est Duck, ap­pear­ing as un­ex­pect­edly as a ghost at a ban­quet. “Still fool­ing away your time.”

“Be gone,” I say in­side my nog­gin, my chops split with a pearly smile. Yet, b’ys, here’s the rub. In ex­cess of five hun­dred years have passed since Billy chased and caught the goose, shaved a finetipped quill, dipped it in ink and scrib­bled lines still re­cited in this age.

I’d like to think that come five hun­dred years a line or two of mine — scrawled on foolscap, or keyed-in to the heart­less void of cy­berspace — will be re­mem­bered. I wish … “Harry…,” “Yes, my Dear­est Duck, I know… more fool I.”

Thank you for read­ing.

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos

Stu­dents at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate re­cently com­pleted a pair of mu­rals fo­cus­ing on the pro­mo­tion of good men­tal health and drug and al­co­hol abuse aware­ness. A $5,000 Eastern Health grant was used to com­plete the project. Pic­tured at right are: back (l-r) — Tracey Sharpe-Smith from Eastern Health, Kelsey Smith, Caitlin Pike, McKayla Ped­dle, Lau­ren Bowring, Court­ney Car­a­van, art teacher David Trainor, Re­becca Gosse, Trinity-Con­cep­tion RCMP com­mu­nity polic­ing of­fi­cer Const. John Clarke, and Chelsea Pike; front (l-r) — teacher Michelle Cleary-Haire (who ap­plied for the grant), April Squires, teacher Lisa Court­ney from the school’s so­cial jus­tice com­mit­tee, Keisha Noo­nan, and Leah Clarke.

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