Plenty of blame to share

The Compass - - Editorial - Marvin Barnes writes from St. John’s

First of all, a full dis­clo­sure: although I worked for DFO for 30 years I had ab­so­lutely no con­nec­tion with the sci­ence or the man­age­ment re­lated to com­mer­cial fish stocks.

Hav­ing watched closely the me­dia cov­er­age of re­cent the­atrics at the DFO of­fices, I have to say I don’t know what is the most tragic as­pect of the Richard Gil­lett af­fair, the fact that he chose to en­dan­ger his God-given health for 11 days, the peo­ple ap­plaud­ing as he was taken away on a stretcher like he was some kind of hero or some­thing, or the me­dia try­ing to in­ter­view the poor guy as he was be­ing put in the am­bu­lance. None of this was New­found­land’s finest hour, to say the least.

The re­straint and ef­forts of the fed­eral govern­ment in all of this is to be com­mended, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the episode started with the forced break and en­try into a fed­eral build­ing. The whole thing is ridicu­lous and most un­for­tu­nate.

DFO is, of course, not blame­less in the events that led us up to the present day or the cur­rent sta­tus of our marine fish stocks. The many years of no con­sul­ta­tion or ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ex­per­tise or knowl­edge of fish­ers is in­de­fen­si­ble. The ig­nor­ing of sci­en­tific ad­vice from within and the pres­sur­ing of man­age­ment re­gard­ing quota-set­ting de­ci­sions by politi­cians are gen­er­ally ac­knowl­edged facts that brought us the 1992 cod mora­to­rium and may pos­si­bly have also been fac­tors in re­cent quota cuts.

Fish­ers, on the other hand, are far from blame­less as well. In the midst of all the list of sins at­trib­uted to DFO, I have heard no ref­er­ence to other bla­tant wrong­do­ings such as mis­re­port­ing, dis­card­ing of un­der­sized fish, un­der­handed deal­ings with pro­ces­sors, ex­ceed­ing quo­tas, use of il­le­gal gear, etc.

Against the back­ground of all of this one has to won­der if it is ad­vis­able to have any roe fish­ery for caplin, the species that sus­tains the marine ecosys­tem. Is there enough re­solve or back­bone amongst the tri­umvi­rate of DF O-politi­cians fisher s to ad­dress this loom­ing cri­sis in any mean­ing­ful way? Are we doomed to fall vic­tim yet again to the lack of any qual­ity po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in this key area of our so­ci­ety as has plagued this province for gen­er­a­tions?

In­deed, I sug­gest there is lots of blame to go around with re­spect to the fish­ery in our fair province!

Is there enough re­solve or back­bone amongst the tri­umvi­rate of DFOpoliti­cians-fish­ers to ad­dress this loom­ing cri­sis in any mean­ing­ful way?”

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