The following commentary was phoned in to CBC Radio’s Fisheries Broadcast on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010.
The commentary, for whatever reason, did not air.
My name is Ryan Cleary and I’m calling from St. John’s.
I’m prompted to call in from listening to Gus Etchegary on Tuesday’s (April 20th) Fisheries Broadcast.
I know people who hear Gus Etchegary and immediately tune him out.
I’m not one of those people.
I’m a long-term admirer of Mr. Etchegary’s passion and personal sacrifice.
When he speaks — I tune in.
Those same people also can’t stand to hear or read the word fish.
It’s dirt to them.
They believe the fisheries are dead, that it’s time to let them go for good and move on.
I’m not one of those people, either.
I believe we can rebuild the groundfish fishery into something it’s never been — a well-tuned economic engine for the outports and the good of all Newfoundland and Labrador.
To do that, we need a new economic model; perhaps one based on community ownership of the resources off our shores.
A model based on a year-round living from a renewable resource.
To develop an economic model that works we need the facts.
The facts on science.
The facts on ownership of quotas.
The facts on enforcement and NAFO.
The facts on management.
Is it working?
Is it not?
To get the facts we would need the co-operation of the federal and provincial governments.
The feds control the harvesting.
The province controls the processing.
Tell me that’s not a formula for failure.
Cabot Martin once predicted that a rebuilt northern cod fishery could produce annual harvests of at least 400,000 tonnes.
Tell me we couldn’t make a go of it with that much fish.
To rebuild the fishery we have to start at the foundation.
I agree with Gus Etchegary that a judicial inquiry or commission of inquiry is warranted into the Grand Banks fishery.
We’ve lost 90,000 people since the fisheries were first shut down in the early ’90s.
The bleeding and pain continues to this day.
The fishery — our reason for being, the industry our ancestors handed down to us — is in a disgraceful state.
If the federal Conservatives could call an inquiry into the disappearance of sockeye salmon on B.C.’s Fraser River, they can call an inquiry into the fall of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Which is the only way to see them rise again.
A petition was circulated in B.C. to press for an inquiry.
Maybe a petition is the first step to turn this industry around once and for all.