Friday, June 29, 2012

Ottawa knew for 20 years before the moratorium how much fish was being taken by the Soviets and Spanish and left us out to dry

I received the following letter via e-mail on Friday, June 29th. Published with permission. The 20th anniversary of the northern cod moratorium is Monday, July 2nd.

I am a fellow Newfoundlander who has moved back home after leaving to join the military in 1970.

During my period in the military my main job was to monitor the communications of Communist-Bloc countries and any targeted vessel that posed a risk to our national security.

In 1972, I was stationed in Gander and one of the tasks that we were given was to monitor the communications of all the Soviet and Spanish fishing fleets that fished off our shores, especially in and around the Grand Banks.

In any one day we would fix the location via HFDF (High Frequency Direction Finding Communications) of anywhere from 350 and 400 Soviet fishing trawlers and draggers off our coast. At the same time, we copied their transmissions which were sent via Morse code.

These transmissions included each vessel`s catch for that day, which was mostly codfish. The hull number, name, latitude and longtitude were also included in each message. Each vessel sent this information to a mother ship, which was a giant factory-freezer ship. That mother ship, in turn, would report all of that info back to the home ports such as Kaliningrad, Klajpedia, Murmansk, Riga, etc.

The important part of all of this is that each and every day we reported all of that information to Ottawa to a part of the government called "The National Security Agency" located on Heron Road in the Sir Leonard Tilley Building in Ottawa. All of that information was then reported to the federal government to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

So, my point is this: the federal government knew for 20 years before the collapse of the fishery exactly how much fish was being taken off our coasts by both the Soviets and Spanish and left us out to dry. It is our belief that even though the government knew what was going on, they sacrificed our industry for the sake of international trade talks to move minerals, raw materials from the mainland provinces.

What makes it even more surprising is that leading up to the collapse of the fishery, the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans was John Crosbie. Was he informed of what was happening? Was the information kept from him? Did he Know and not take action?

I recently passed this information on to Gerry Byrne, only to find out that he was the aid to Brian Tobin when he was the Fisheries minister from 1993-96. I spoke with him a few weeks ago when he was in Cow Head for a function and he considers it a dead issue and brushed it off.

Why are we letting the federal government of the hook? I believe that you are calling for an inquiry. This seems to be information that has been kept as a secret for a long time and should be brought forward.

Rollie Wheeler,
Cow Head, NL

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