Twill­ingate man’s mes­sage to DFO

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - David Boyd writes from Twill­ingate

Oc­ca­sion­ally some­thing hap­pens that takes the cake and sticks in your gut to the point that you have to get it off your chest.

To­day, Feb. 20, be­ing a beau­ti­ful af­ter­noon in Twill­ingate, my wife and I de­cided to take a leisurely 30minute drive up to Sum­merford to try and catch a few smelt for supper. When we ar­rived at the lit­tle cove by the high­way, I no­ticed the fed­eral fish­ery pickup pull in be­hind the ve­hi­cles al­ready stopped on the road­side, a half dozen peo­ple al­ready out on the ice, try­ing their luck.

Sure enough, the two DFO of­fi­cers, dressed in their bul­let proof vests with their hand­guns promi­nently vis­i­ble on their hips, got out of their ve­hi­cle and pro­ceeded to walk out on the cove ice to where the five or six res­i­dents were fish­ing for smelt. Now to this gen­er­a­tion, and per­haps to the two of­fi­cers, there was noth­ing out of place with this type of be­hav­iour, but to me, hav­ing grown up in a small fish­ing vil­lage en­joy­ing the free­doms of my gen­er­a­tion, it was sick­en­ing to me to see one of­fi­cer bother to lift the lip of the 80-year-old gen­tle­man’s shop­ping bag, to look in and see the two or three smelt that he had caught. The el­derly gen­tle­man just sat on his bucket, clearly feel­ing a lit­tle in­tim­i­dated by a DFO of­fi­cer check­ing his small catch.

I had to speak up and ask the of­fi­cer, “Are there any laws to be bro­ken here to­day?”

“No,” he replied, “there is no catch limit on smelt!”

In fair­ness, the of­fi­cers were po­lite enough, but I thought to my­self, know­ing the de­struc­tion go­ing on to­day on our con­ti­nen­tal shelf by fac­tory freez­ers, both our own shrimpers and for­eign fleets, cer­tainly God there must be a bet­ter al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources in DFO than to have fish­ery of­fi­cers driv­ing around, wast­ing time and tax dol­lars and mak­ing old men feel un­com­fort­able when there is no pos­si­bil­ity of any law be­ing bro­ken or any il­le­gal fish within a 50 miles of this lit­tle shel­tered cove.

Much bet­ter to save the ef­fort for next sum­mer when the re­tired judges and coun­try club types, bored with life, spend day af­ter day on the salmon rivers of this prov­ince catch­ing and re­leas­ing At­lantic salmon, ex­haust­ing those beau­ti­ful crea­tures as they try to reach the head­wa­ters of the rivers to re­lease their eggs — all in the name of sport. The thin lead­ers some­times split­ting the salmon’s tail, mak­ing for­ward head­way against the cur­rent im­pos­si­ble.

Then pic­ture that cru­elty against the back­drop of a fish­er­man be­ing forced to throw away any dead salmon that should be an ac­ci­den­tal by­catch in a her­ring or mack­erel net, rather than be­ing per­mit­ted to bring ashore for his chil­dren to eat!

Hav­ing grown up and en­joyed the free­doms of an out­port child­hood, and know­ing that we as in­shore fish­ers did not de­stroy the re­source, petty ac­tions by young fish­ery of­fi­cers out to save the world is hard to take. But to to­day’s gen­er­a­tion, who will never ex­pe­ri­ence the rich­ness of our youth, such be­hav­iour will be ac­cepted as the norm.

I could write on many other ex­am­ples of pet­ti­ness by small-minded DFO of­fi­cers, but suf­fice to­day, just to say to them, “Boys, con­cen­trate on the is­sues that mat­ter and don’t sweat the small stuff at the ex­pense of lib­erty so dearly bought by many young New­found­lan­ders a gen­er­a­tion or two ago!”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.