Cod sal­va­tion and dev­il­ish in­ter­fer­ence

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL -

The more peo­ple I talk to about the fish­ery the more I be­come con­vinced that there are three root causes of the re­oc­cur­ring catas­tro­phes in the fish­ing in­dus­try.

Those causes are cor­po­rate prof­its, elec­tion votes and union agen­das. Com­bined, they add up to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

We have been dig­ging and tun­nelling for hun­dreds of years but we still have more non-re­new­able re­sources left un­der the ground than we have re­new­able re­sources left un­der the wa­ter.

What does that tell us about our track record on man­ag­ing our re­new­able re­sources?

We have be­come ex­pert at find­ing ex­cuses. We can­not take any credit for the nickel, oil and ion ore un­der our feet; that was caused by cen­turies of meta­mor­phic re­ac­tions. We are now be­ing told we had noth­ing to do with the de­clin­ing amount of shrimp un­der the waves, — that was caused by global warm­ing.

The bright spot th­ese days seems to be cod, our saviour.

While look­ing for ev­i­dence that lessons have been learned about cod, we can­not ig­nore South Coast (3Ps) Cod.

A mora­to­rium on com­mer­cial cod fish­ing in 3Ps cod was im­ple­mented in 1993 and af­ter a few years the fish­ery re­opened. DFO spring sur­vey biomass es­ti­mates, since 2005, have av­er­aged about 40 thou­sand tonnes an­nu­ally. How­ever, from 1959 to 1993, the com­mer­cial catch av­er­aged about 45 thou­sand tonnes

While know­ing that the cur­rent av­er­age 3Ps sur­vey biomass has been lower than his­toric catch lev­els for the stock, it was busi­ness as usual. Even drag­ging for cod on spawn­ing grounds dur­ing spawn­ing sea­son has been on­go­ing. There were no ob­jec­tions from cor­po­ra­tions, politi­cians or the union un­til quo­tas could not be caught and had to be slashed.

Sound fa­mil­iar?

A few years ago, we were told by cor­po­rate, po­lit­i­cal and union ex­ec­u­tives that things would be dif­fer­ent for North­ern cod. Not to worry, a slow and easy ap­proach will be taken, they said back then.

The same day we got the ter­ri­ble news about the de­cline in shrimp biomass, the slow and easy ap­proach for North­ern cod dis­ap­peared along with shrimp.

Is it co­in­ci­dence that the north­ern cod stock sud­denly be­came healthy enough to ab­sorb dou­bling of the com­mer­cial catch two years in a row? Is it co­in­ci­dence that the north­ern cod stock sud­denly be­came the en­abler for the in­dus­trial tran­si­tion from shrimp pro­cess­ing to cod pro­cess­ing?

If it is not co­in­ci­dence, it surely must be di­vine in­ter­ven­tion! Thanks to that di­vine in­ter­ven­tion cod has be­come our saviour.

I am not a deeply re­li­gious per­son but when speak­ing about saviours and di­vine in­ter­ven­tion it is never a good thing to for­get about the devil.

The three root causes I men­tioned at the be­gin­ning added up to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. I am con­vinced that po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence has been the devils in­flu­ence on our re­new­able fish­eries re­sources. If to­day’s saviour, cod, is go­ing to have a chance to con­tinue to re­cover and thrive we are ab­so­lutely, pos­i­tively go­ing to have to find a way to ex­or­cize the devil.

Har­vey Jarvis Por­tu­gal Cove–St. Philip’s

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