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Fair fish treatment


Dear editor, The 25 days allotted to the public food fishery in this province of Newfoundland and Labrador in July, August and September were in large part lost to high winds. Another three days were added by the DFO minister after Hurricane Igor devastated parts of the province.

Meanwhile, in eastern Nova Scotia and P.E.I., the so-called recreational food fishery runs for 75 days (essentially all summer), and in western Nova Scotia and New Brunswick waters, for 11 months of the year.

This is absolutely unacceptable treatment of the people of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the same minister, who in her letter addressed to the Rural Rights and Boats Owners and the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation (NLWF), told us that she understood what the food fishery meant to the people of this province. She went on to say that she recognized the historical and cultural importance of this food fishery to the people of NL. This is also the same minister who said she would bring in an Atlantic Wide Marine Recreational Fishing License (AWMRFL) for all Atlantic Canada. She promised that we would all be treated equally. Yet, this same minister has dropped this idea like a hot potato. Why?

Why are the citizens of this province being discriminated against?

The DFO minister has further insulted the people of this province by her actions at the NAFO meeting held in Nova Scotia in September, which she hosted.

At this NAFO meeting, the DFO minister apparently supported a doubling of the cod quota on the Flemish Cap to be caught by foreign fleets only. These stocks are still considered to be in trouble. All the while she is doing this (behind close doors), she once again ignored the requests of the people of this province by granting our request for an extension of the food fishery to compensate for the almost 10 days total of gale force winds during the food fishery.

 

The foreigners appear to be more important to the federal government than the cultural rights of the people of this province — rights that the minister said that she understood and supported in her letter to the several conservation organizations.

The DFO minister has, in our opinion, deceived the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as to what she gave her own constituents in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. This matter can only lead us to believe (that after 10 years of being discriminated against) that all of Atlantic Canada will not be treated equally.

The Maritime provinces are being given preferential treatment over the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Why?

This is totally unacceptable situation for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador

Is the local DFO staff responsible for some of this? After all, it was these local DFO staff who said the winds were not high in their report to the minister. These same local DFO staff never supported the food fishery.

As we have no member in the Federal Harper government, there is no one to carry our concerns to the DFO minister. One cannot expect Peter McKay to carry our message to DFO, as he represents the interests of Nova Scotia.

If it wasn’t for the efforts of the Rural Rights and Boats Owners, the Outdoor Rights Conservation Association, and the NLWF, the people of this province may not even have a food fishery.

On top of all of this the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have regrettable suffered another tragedy off the coast of Bauline.

Our organizations are all volunteers, and we are determined to aggressively pursue this issue of the recreational/food fishery until we are treated in a fair manner by the Government of Canada. Therefore, our organizations would appreciate any and all support in our efforts to obtain fair treatment for Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Rick Bouzan

NLWF

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