The following letter to the editor is published in today's (Saturday, Sept. 24th) edition of the Weekend Telegram.
Russell Wangersky began his Sept. 17th column (Fish and ships – and politics) with an old saying that I first heard years ago from politicians in the House of Assembly: Never ask a question unless you already know the answer.
He was writing in the context of my calls for a fishery inquiry.
I’m well ahead of you, Mr. Wangersky – I have the questions and answers (Coles Notes version below).
Is the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery broken?
More than broken — she’s as cracked as the practice of shipping raw fish to China.
Is fisheries management working?
Definitely not for the 80,000-plus people (and 39,000 jobs) we’ve lost since the early 1990s, and certainly not for the few fish left clinging to the Grand Banks by their fingernails (to borrow a phrase from Brian Tobin).
What’s the status of fishery science?
Gutted and bled.
Is the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization effective in overseeing stocks outside the 200-mile limit?
I wouldn’t trust NAFO with a goldfish bowl.
What happens to foreign trawlers caught illegal fishing?
Their fishing is rudely interrupted for a few hours.
Who holds the right to the fish in the sea, and who exactly is fishing the quotas and benefiting from the catches?
Not us, in too many cases.
What’s the fundamental problem with the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery today?
Lack of fish.
Mr. Wangersky makes an error at the beginning of his column when he writes about my “quixotic” search for a Royal Commission “to examine the Atlantic Canadian fishery.”
In fact, the title of my Private Members’ Bill is the “Newfoundland and Labrador Rebuilding Act.”
My focus is specifically on the fish stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador, and how to develop and implement a rebuilding strategy 19 years after their collapse.
Mr. Wangersky’s central point is a valid one: dozens of reports have been written about various aspects of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery over the decades, why do we need yet another one?
I suspect he already knows the answer.
Never before have we been in such desperate need of a big-picture game plan, a blue print to move the fishery forward, to prepare for life after oil.
And we can’t rebuild without a foundation of black-and-white facts that only a Commission of Inquiry can provide.
MP, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl