Clear­ing the air

The Queens County Advance - - OPINION -

Be­cause the is­sue is so crit­i­cal to the fu­ture well-be­ing of coastal com­mu­ni­ties in South­west Nova Sco­tia, and be­cause there has been so much con­fu­sion in the lo­cal me­dia about dif­fer­ences that might ex­ist be­tween Nova Sco­tia Aqua­cul­ture and Fish­eries min­is­ter Ster­ling Bel­liveau and the 1688 Pro­fes­sional Lob­ster Fish­er­men As­so­ci­a­tion re­gard­ing pro­posed changes in fish­ery pol­icy, I thought it im­por­tant to clear the air.

As he has been clear to point out in var­i­ous in­ter­views, Ster­ling Bel­liveau and I have worked closely to­gether in the lob­ster fish­ery in this re­gion for decades and have fought for years on the same is­sues to pro­tect the fish­ery and those who de­pend upon it to raise their fam­i­lies and to keep their com­mu­ni­ties pros­per­ing.

We have not al­ways agreed on ev­ery­thing and some­times, even when we saw eye-to-eye on an is­sue, we have not al­ways agreed on the ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion. But even when we have dis­agreed, we have been re­spect­ful of the oth­ers knowl­edge and opin­ions and that re­mains the case.

I think that some re­porters may have mis­taken my pas­sion about this mat­ter as un­due crit­i­cism of Ster­ling’s ac­tions re­lat­ing to the is­sue - per­haps even ex­ag­ger­ated it for a news “hook” - but we have cleared that is­sue up di­rectly and per­son­ally, as we al­ways do when we have dis­agreed over the years.

Make no mis­take, 1688 PLFA and I agree 100 per cent with Ster­ling Bel­liveau about the threat posed to our very sur­vival by the im­pli­ca­tions put for­ward in the “dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment” re­gard­ing changes be­ing sug­gested by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in the Canada’s fish­eries are to be man­aged and “mod­ern­ized” in the fu­ture. The gut­ting of “owner/op­er­a­tor” and “fleet sepa­ra­tion” poli­cies will be the death knell for our in­de­pen­dent in­shore lob­ster fish­ery.

But the threat re­mains. As Ster­ling so clearly spelled out re­cently, the con­sul­ta­tion process for these pro­posed changes is fa­tally flawed and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment MUST re­visit the mat­ter. With a mem­ber­ship of close to 800, 1688 PLFA can and will be an ef­fec­tive part­ner with Ster­ling Bel­liveau and other or­ga­ni­za­tions fight­ing the pre­serve fish­ing poli­cies for which we fought for decades to put in place and which are es­sen­tial to our liveli­hoods.

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