Why the fishery is dying

Rudy Norman
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There are lots of people in this province who claim that they are ‘experts’ when it comes to the fishery.
I’m far from one of them.

In fact, I pretty much know squat all about how this whole thing works, because it’s A. Not something I’ve been around much, and B. Not something I’m overly interested in.

Now you’re sitting there and thinking “well that pretty much discredits everything you’re about to say.” Au contraire, my friend. (I’m not an expert in French either)

See there’s one thing that I am an expert in. It’s something that I’ve been able to utilize most of my life, passed down through the generations of people, mostly on my mother’s side, which has allowed us to excel and outlast the folks who haven’t made it thus far in the span of time, like the Vikings for instance.

It’s called common sense.

Now I realize, that this concept is not new to most of you, and what I’m going to point out here is probably something you all already knew before reading this. I trust if it is, you will view the time you spent going through this, not as a waste, but more of a confirmation of your suspicions, from an expert.

So here it is. Based on my analysis, using the tools that I have at my disposal, I have discovered what is killing the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.

The federal government …… and their Employment Insurance Program.

See for the first part of that, I had all of you in the palm of my hand and agreeing with me wholeheartedly. For the second part, I no doubt made a few enemies. But let me explain.

Now, for the record, I’m not an expert on Employment Insurance either. I’ve never actually used the program, or had a need to, although that makes me no better or worse than the next guy.

Secondly, let me say that I’m not against the program in any way – I think when used effectively and needed, we should be lucky as Canadians that we have it. But I fear that the days of relying on EI as a second income are well gone.

It’s like the old saying – all good things must come to an end. Then again, that’s not really true for everything – but at least it fits the current circumstance.

For years, men and women working in our province’s fishery have relied on EI (or UI back in the day), as a means to get them through to the next season of fishing, and thus, act as their sole income for most of the year.

I’m not going to say that everyone who’s done that has abused the system and should be ashamed of themselves – they did what they had to do, and for most, they did the only thing you could.

I’m simply saying that the fact that they had to do it, is the whole reason the fishery is dying.

 The fact that we’ve spent all of these years investing in a seasonal industry, and not looking at ways, if any, that we could turn this thing into something year-round, is cause for concern, and perhaps one of the sole contributing factors to the giant weight we’re lugging around now.

We built enough fish plants to power a small country, and only put them to work half the year. Did anyone else not realize that the companies running these plants still had to maintain and keep up the buildings the rest of the weeks as well?

It seems like we merely just put all of eggs in one basket – and then when that basket was empty, we went home, drew the benefits from the government, and then the next year we moved our eggs to a different basket. Sooner or later, we ran out of baskets.

In fact, in many cases, the baskets moved on – while the government was cutting the cheques.  Now we’re faced with the reality that unless the fishery becomes a full-time, year round venture, then the likelihood of it ever becoming viable again is slim to none.

So the question remains – is it the fault of the people working in the industry?

Well, realistically, this business model had to come from somewhere. Where that was, I have no idea, but whoever came up with it, that’s who I blame. The first person who came up with it.

Mainly because I think they probably did it because it was convenient and easy.

Everyone else that followed just did it because they thought they had to.

Organizations: Vikings, Employment Insurance Program.See

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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