Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What offends me as a Newfoundlander

An edited version of the following commentary was aired on CBC’s Fisheries Broadcast on Monday, April 11th.

My name is Ryan Cleary and I’m calling from St. John’s.

I wish to respond to statements made on the Fisheries Broadcast earlier this week by fisherman Ray Wimbleton.

With a federal election in full swing, Ray questioned why the fishery has barely been mentioned.

Ray asked why not a single federal candidate is talking about rural Newfoundland’s broken engine — the fishing industry.

I spoke to Ray many times when I hosted VOCM NightLine.

Ray talked about the fishery and how it was dying around him.

Ray talked about how young Newfoundlanders were turning their backs on the sea, because there’s no living in it — no future in it.

Ray sees himself as the last of a breed.

I told Ray to have hope — things can change.

And I believe that.

I asked one question before agreeing to represent the New Democrats in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.

One question.

I asked whether the NDP would support a judicial inquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries.

The New Democrats said yes.

Then I said yes.

The fishery must be rebuilt.

But we can’t rebuild without all the facts: on science, enforcement, quotas and — most importantly — management.

The same DFO management that ran groundfish stocks into commercial extinction manages the fishery today.

What’s happened has been described as “managed annihilation.”

Which offends me as a Newfoundlander.

I take it personally.

There may be no fishery left by the time Canada/EU free-trade deals are done.

The same foreign countries that cleaned out the Grand Banks could be granted access to pick the bones clean.

Pick the bones clean.

We need an inquiry to provide a baseline of information so we can start making decisions and moving forward.

We have to get our act together now so we’ll have a future after oil.

This week I met fisherman Paul Critch, whose 60-foot boat was tied up at Prosser’s Rock boat basin in St. John’s harbour.

Paul said he named his boat the Chelsea and Emily, after his two daughters.

Paul is a 5th generation fisherman.

Upon the birth of his second daughter, Paul said his father said “Thank God.”

“Thank God” it’s not a boy.

A grandson would have to go into the fishery.

And who wants that.

This is what we’ve come to.

We have hit rock bottom.

The time to rebuild is now.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Well said. Reminded me of this...

And this is a country where the young
leave quickly
unwilling to know what their fathers know
or think the words their mothers do not say —

Al Purdy, "The Country North of Belleville"

The fisherman’s experience off the coast of Newfoundland is the farmer’s experience in the fields of Ontario. They both, at times, have been easily defeated by nature. Purdy said, “What do you do with a place like that, where you can spend your entire life watching the same patch of gold shimmer amid all the red of the very same hills…Well it’s like I say, it’s the kind of country that the young leave quickly…and I did.” Why would a young person settle for scratching out an existence in a land where you cannot control your own outcome? Of course, the young people are “unwilling to know what their fathers know.” In accepting the jobs of their fathers, linked to the land, they would be accepting defeat. Why do they leave? Well, why would they stay? The land certainly is beautiful, but “you can’t eat the air/and you can’t drink the sea.”

Sharecroppermike said...

Good comments. Ryan, you make us proud! All the best in elections!!!~Mike