Monday, July 5, 2010

Masters of our own fishing destiny?

I'm filling in for Bill Rowe as host of VOCM's afternoon radio call-in show, Backtalk, for the month of July, followed by a week standing in for Randy Simms as host of Open Line. Each day I'll post the show's monologue, which I prepare in advance.

Today (June 5th) I filled in for Randy on Open Line.


Good morning Newfoundland and Labrador and all the ships at sea.

My name is Ryan Cleary and I’m filling in for Randy Simms this morning.

I’m the summer relief here on VOCM’s Open Lines, and I couldn’t imagine a more interesting gig.

Although the best job I ever had would still have to be when I was a teenager and the two summers — way back in the mid-1980s — that I worked as a lifeguard at the Bay Roberts swimming pool.

But that’s another show altogether.

To the news …

Let’s start with the lighter news, and warm our way up to the heavier news.

It is Monday morning after all.

First things first — the whales are in.

I went for a walk around Signal Hill early Saturday afternoon, and you could see the whales from the cliffs.

It’s a sight I see every year, but I still get excited to see the whales.

Most every single ledge was a balcony seat for the show, and the hill was blocked with tourists.

You can always tell the tourists on a walk around Signal Hill.

They’re the people loaded down with provisions: knapsacks and water barrels and binoculars and cameras and tents and lawn chairs and propane stoves and coolers and a couple of coils of rope.

OK, I’m exaggerating … a bit.

The tourists have descended upon us, and it’s great to see that Newfoundland and Labrador is appreciated more and more.

Thank God for the tourism campaign.

And the Republic of Doyle.


Ryan Snoddon, the weatherman at CBC TV, will tell you that June was a tough month for the province.

The temperatures were close to normal, but it was a wet month.

Ryan broke down the number of 20-degree days for the month of June.

Badger was the big winner, hitting 20 degrees 17 times.

Which would make St. John’s the big loser, reaching 20 degrees the least number of times in June — 4 times.

The long range forecast is looking up, says the young Mr. Snoddon. Southerly flows, for most, and temperatures in the high teens and low 20s.

Tourism is a $1-billion a year industry for Newfoundland and Labrador; $300 million for the City of St. John’s.

How do you see the tourism industry from your vantage point around Newfoundland and Labrador? From your outport, town or city.

How does tourism look from your kitchen window?

If there anything we could be doing that we’re not doing?


Still with lighter news.

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded yet another lotto winner last week.

Lorna Jamieson of St. John’s bought a $10 scratch ticket and won $1 million.

Lorna Jamieson just happens to be married to Bas Jamieson — from Dat-you-Bas? Fame.

Bas Jamieson was a radio call-in host for years, and a million bucks looks good on him and his missus.

Speaking of lotto tickets, after a fairly lengthy police investigation, I see that a Gander man has been charged with armed robbery and fraud after two incidents at convenience stories in central Newfoundland on the May 24th weekend.

In one of the incidents the man stole lottery tickets from a convenience store and then returned the next day to cash in the winners.

Not much you can say about that.

I’m just here shaking my head.


There was big news on Friday with the Danny Williams administration announcing it’s setting aside $14 million for fishery research, including almost $12 to charter an offshore research vessel to carry out a survey of northern cod.

Only fish research falls under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada.

Newfoundland handed over responsibility for the fisheries with the Terms of Union.

Ottawa sets the rules and quotas.

Here’s a question: is there a showdown coming between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa over management of the fishery?

Is Danny Williams looking for a fight?

That’s not like him.

Is Friday’s announcement — Friday being the 18th anniversary of the day in 1992 when John Crosbie shut down the northern cod fishery — the first step to the province trying to seize management control?

At the very least the move by the Williams administration seems to say it doesn’t trust federal fish science, which supposedly ain’t what it used to be.

This may be a stupid question — although there’s supposedly no such thing — but have you seen any problems over the past, say 18 years, with the management of the fishery?

My guess would be yes.


Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea issued a press release late Friday to say she’d be interested to see details of the province’s fishery research initiative.

She noted that some of the province’s activities will likely require federal approval.

I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear Danny Williams say he’s prepared to ask anybody for permission.

Do you think he needs it?

Do you see any problems with federal management of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries?

Is science where it should be?

Are you content with how the fisheries are being management by the Government of Canada?

Oh, and if you’re one of the 90,000 Newfoundland and Labradorians who have moved out of the province since the early 1990s as a result of the fishery collapse, well, you’re more than welcome to call in as well.


Dr. George Rose is a a former federal research scientist who’s been outspoken about fisheries management issues for years.

He’s been appointed director of a new Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research, to be based at Memorial University's Marine Institute in St. John's …

Dr. Rose wrote the 2007 book Cod, The Ecological History of the North Atlantic Fisheries.

There’s a section at the end of the book called The Sea Ahead that quotes Cabot Martin, a fisheries expert in his own right and one of the authors of the Atlantic Accord.

For a start, Cabot says Memorial University could start teaching fisheries management.

For another, the province could start building up a team of fisheries managers.

Let me quote the book directly:

“These are not frills, but the essential preconditions of ensuring that we, Newfoundlanders, regain full control over our fisheries. If we do not do this, we can expect to become nothing more than a pathetic shadow of ourselves; no longer a Newfoundland people; no longer a Newfoundland society.

Again — what do you think of the province stepping into federal territory?

Is it time we became masters of our own fishing destiny?

Or is all that talk just rhetoric?

The editorial in the Weekend Telegram had an interesting piece of advice:

“Turn science into a jurisdictional bun fight with dwelling numbers and dueling science, and only one thing will happen: people will choose whatever science most closely backs whatever it is they want to believe, and whatever they want to do.”


Here’s an interesting fact from George Rose’s book:

Since the fisheries began, about 100 million tonnes of cod have been taken from the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador.

If that amount of fish were sold at today’s prices in St. John’s, it would be worth some $650 billion.

Yet only a paltry amount — paltry — has been reinvested into fishery research or improving cod products and markets.

I heard another line of thinking over the weekend that the Danny Williams administration is getting more involved with the fishery because the lower Churchill development isn’t going anywhere.

Any truth to that, you think?

Is the sudden shift to a fishery focus just a ploy to get our attention off the lack of movement on the lower Churchill?

From my perspective, it’s some good to see the premier take a more active hand in the fisheries.


As for the Churchill …

More specifically, the upper Churchill and that incredibly lopsided contract.

There was an interesting article in The Telegram this weekend that quoted Memorial University economist James Feehan, who’s also regarded as an expert on the hydro dispute with Quebec.

Feehan wants the provincial government to expropriate the Churchill Falls hydroelectric project and all other physical assets owned by the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation.

CFLCO is 65.8 per cent owned by Newfoundland Hydro, and 34.2 per cent owned by Hydro-Quebec.

So that even when the upper Churchill contract expires in 2041, Hydro-Quebec will still own almost 35 per cent of the project.

Are you good with that?

The Upper Churchill contract has an automatic renewal clause that kicks in in 6 years, which will run from 2016 to 2041.

That renewal clause will allow Quebe to pay 20 per cent less for the electricity — the energy equivalent of $1.20 per barrel of oil until 2041.

I say expropriate.

What do you say?


There was another interesting story in the Weekend Telegram about how seniors are finding second careers after retirement.

The paper quoted two retirees, one a former teacher and the other a former nursing assistant, who are working for Kent’s Building Supplies in St. John’s.

The Independent newspaper did a story back in November 2007 about how a former Newfoundland Finance minister and Bank of Canada board member works at an Ontario Home Depot.

Who, pray tell?

Why none other than Winston Baker, brother of Senator George.

Winston said he retired for a few years and found himself sitting around far too much.

Of course, the other question is this if you’re a senior: Can you get a job?

There was another story in the weekend paper about how some seniors can’t get work.

Is that the case?


Speaking of work, the Ottawa Citizen carried a big feature over the weekend about Moya Greene of St. John’s — the first foreigner, and first woman — to head Britain’s Royal Mail since it was formed 350 years ago.

Moya Greene brings to the $800,000-a-year job the hard-headedness that helped her transform Canada Post, and the assurance she gained from her parents right here in Newfoundland.

In fact, Greene will become the most highly paid female public servant in Britain.

Think she’ll work for Kent’s when she retires?


Still on the topic of female leaders from Newfoundland and Labrador, Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale is taking quite a beating in the media for her handling of the German company that expressed interested in the closed Grand Falls-Windsor paper mill.

Russell Wangersky wrote that it was both a blunder and a fiasco.

Bob Wakeham said Dunderdale appears to be auditioning for a part in a remake of The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

As one letter writer put it: when premature announcements are made in the House of Assembly, they not only appear ridiculous, but they tear the hearts out of already hurting residents of central Newfoundland.

What do you say?


Finally, Vale has reached a tentative deal to end a year-long strike by former Inco workers in Sudbury, Ont.

The strike cost $4 million a week in lost payroll and raised question about foreign ownership of Canadian resources.

A source close to the situation said the union had accepted some reductions to the nickel bonus and pension benefits, but that Vale had not won all the concessions it had sought.

About 120 mine workers at Vale's Voisey's Bay operation remain on strike and have not reached a settlement.

They first walked out on Aug. 1, 2009.

That’s almost a year on strike.

When will it end?

Can more be done to end it?


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