The following letter to the editor appeared in the March 3rd, edition of the Saturday Telegram.
I wish to respond to the Feb. 29 letter to the editor, "The fishery must change," by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield.
I agree that the fishery must change, but I no more trust the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to manage that change than I would trust a seal herd at a sushi bar.
DFO's management incompetence played a huge role in the fall of our fisheries, and now we're supposed to put our faith in a new minister with nine months experience — backed by the same bureaucratic culture that brought the fishery to its knees in the first place.
The fundamental problem with the Grand Banks of Newfoundland is a lack of fish, and the will by the government of Canada to rebuild the resource.
In his letter, Ashfield says straight out that his department can't create more fish in the sea. But his department hasn't even tried to create the conditions for stock renewal.
Almost 20 years after the northern cod moratorium, there's still no rebuilding plan or recovery targets.
Of the dozens of fisheries reports that have been written over the last two decades, few recommendations have actually been implemented. The management of our fisheries has been a complete and utter failure.
Ashfield's solution is to eliminate the inshore fishery and divvy up what's left of the resource amongst the big fishing companies.
But as union head Earle McCurdy has said, fishing rights aren't traded on the stock market, they're the legacy of our outports.
In another letter to the editor ("Not convinced") in the same edition of The Telegram, David Boyd of Twillingate writes that turning over the fish resources to the fish merchants would amount to the greatest scandal in Newfoundland history.
I disagree: the ultimate scandal would be our failure as a people to take a final stand, to draw up our own blueprint for fishery and rural renewal. Ashfield has nine months of experience behind him — we have more than 500 years.
Who would you bet on?