Wednesday, February 9, 2011

‘Control of the fisheries has always been political’

“There are many who profess to regard the fishery as a thing of the past, who assume it is no longer possible to make it a paying proposition, or that it holds out any attraction to our industrious young people. I am not one of those.”

— Frederick Alderdice, the last prime minister of Newfoundland, 1932. .


Fisheries research comes to town, is an interesting headline on The Telegram’s website today.

You wouldn’t know but the arrival of the Irish research ship Celtic Explorer was NL’s first venture into fish science.

Which isn’t the case, not by a long shot.

In fact, Newfoundland (back when it was a country) got its first fish laboratory and research vessel in 1931 in an arrangement with Harvey and Company at their premises in Bay Bulls.

Here’s a piece of NL trivia (thanks to George Rose’s book, Cod, The Ecological History of the North Atlantic Fisheries): The vessel leased from Harvey and Company was the former side trawler RV Cape Agulhas.


Alderdice was an interesting character.

He became prime minister in 1932, only to relinquish representative legislative and independent status two years later, opting to be ruled by a Commission of Government under Great Britain.

Commission of Government was a recommendation of the 1933 Amulree Report on the future of Newfoundland.

The following are quotes from the Amulree report re fisheries, as taken from Rose’s book:


Newfoundland “has always been, first and foremost, a fishing country.”


“Had the fisheries been placed in the past under the control of an independent Board or Commission, composed of disinterested persons and free from political interference, it is conceivable that their record would have been one of continuous progress and development instead of stagnation. In practice, however, the control of the fisheries has always been political.”


Truer words have never been written.

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