Clearing the air
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.