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Change needed in how we run the fishery in Canada…

 

It is upsetting to read headlines on the CBC – Lobster prices two dear: processors. The pricing panel set the starting price at $4.26 per pound, which processors say they will not buy and will lose money. It was only last season this same group of processors could not afford to buy crab at $1.35 per pound set by the pricing panel. Fogo Island Co-op was the only company willing, and they got dispelled from the association. Yet in Nova Scotia crab could be purchased at $1.85 per pound.

Is it our closed marketplace? The few processors have a monopoly? Should we look at changing the legislation? Having a free market and allowing outside buyers?

Lobster is a delicacy and no harvester can continue to make a living at the low price of $3.00 or $3.25 per pound, especially with escalating operating costs. My father was a small boat fisher, catching lobster. The price 15 years ago was higher than what it has been in recent seasons.

I remember passing the seafood section in London, England in 2007. The price of lobster fo 16.00 GBP or about $34.00 CDN. I purchased a lobster tail on a beach stand for $9.00 CDN. If you go fine dining lobster ranks up there with the fine cuts of beef.

Why have we devalued the lobster? Are we failing to market our quality products and getting into more value-added? And why are we unable to pay the harvester a fair price? Something has to be done to ensure more certainly and better management of the fishery. Hon. Clyde Jackman, Fisheries Minister for the Province needs to work with newly elected Federal counterparts and all stakeholders.

The fishery continues to be the backbone of the rural economy. We must implement corrective measures to ensure that our rural communities can continue to remain sustainable. The amount of dollars may be small to many of these larger producers but every cut to fish species and reduction of price has resonating impacts to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador economies.

Together we can make great change for brighter tomorrows.

Live Rural NL from Las Vegas -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Community Control of Resources Leads to Greater Success in Rural Newfoundland

Mr. Sam Elliott, Executive Director of St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) spoke to an audience of more than 100 at the National Conference Rural Revitalization From Our Forests, sharing their local community engagement success story. It was evident that when communities collaborate and come together, they can achieve greater success.

Mr. Elliott informed the audience that in 1997, when the Federal Government released its new management plan, there was an allocation of 3,000 tonnes for the 16 communities (17 at the time) on the northern part of the Great Northern Peninsula. They included the communities from Big Brook (now re-settled) to Goose Cove that had lobbied for a share of the increased quotas. Having this resource in the hands of the communities, enabled SABRI to make local decisions that would provide the greatest benefit to residents of the area.

The management Board is made up of 15 volunteers with 5 fisherpersons, 4 fish plant employees, 4 Community representatives and 2 representatives from local development committees. The Broad representation from various regions and interests may present for some tough decisions. However, the group realizes that they have to make good decisions that will have local impacts.

They put our a combination of short and long-term proposals, one of which was a plant facility for shrimp and other species in St. Anthony. According to their website, the Board chose 4 companies who proposed to offload their shrimp in St. Anthony and to hire local fishermen to fish the shrimp for 1997. In return SABRI would receive a royalty on a per tonne basis. This provided revenue until a production facility and agreement could be reached.

The Board reached a decision to establish a partnership to create St. Anthony Seafoods Limited and access the former FPI plant. It is evident that many negotiations had to take place with the owners and other interest groups to put up some investment. SABRI was able to retain 25% ownership, with 25% owned by two Icelandic Companies and 50% for Clearwater. The addition of these other shareholders, had reduced the risks of SABRI.

Mr. Elliott, noted in the beginning $10,000 was given to each community to assist with projects and enhancements. However, one of the larger problems in some of these rural communities was lack of organization (Town Council or Local Development Committees). This meant some communities were spending their $10,000 to do a project without trying to use that to leverage other funds. Sometimes the project would only be partially completed before funds would run out. Mr. Elliott pointed out that this $160,000 could potentially be $1.6 Million in infrastructure investments to the region. However, achieving this goal with many more interest groups and satisfying their needs would undoubtably be a challenge. SABRI had consultations with the communities and found that common to all groups, they were interested in having a trail system. This would be the direction SABRI would take to enhance what was currently in place.

Mr. Elliott should a series of photographs of before and after their organization had taken a lead. This included changing from wooded board walks to natural rock trails, to the completion of many gazebos. His images showed the trails were well-marked with good signage, some having storyboards.

SABRI has focused on Community Economic Development, which same highlighted a series of recent projects:

  • Removal and replacement of existing cruise docking facilities at L’Anse aux Meadows, as well as a tour bus turnaround at the site;
  • Development of a walking access to the French Oven site at Quirpon;
  • Development of integrated signage;
  • Trail guide for the SABRI region
  • Construction of three portable kiosks, which can be transported to festivals and activities in the region throughout the season.
  • Construction of three stationary kiosks. These kiosks are located on the Grenfell Properties; at L’Anse aux Meadows; and at Parkers Brook for the Save Our Char Committee.

SABRI has re-invested in local projects, creating local employment. They currently manage a mussel farm,  provide scholarships and donate to local not-profit groups, such as the Grenfell Foundation.

Mr. Elliott had provided a final slide of Did You Know? and I wish I was able to scribe all the positive figures of the many millions invested in infrastructure, the hundreds of jobs created directly and many more indirectly in the region. SABRI is truly a local success story on the Great Northern Peninsula that was given a small allocation of 3,000 tonnes and manage it effectively to provide the greatest benefits to the people of their region. They should be commended for the work they do and the significant impact they have made.

When communities come together and collaborate for the common good of everyone, there is greater success. There is no reason, why communities could not have greater decision-making over other resources, such as the forest. However, much of this success hinges on Government to enable the local economy to develop. We are beginning to see local groups with common interests, working closer together to share finite resources. We only have to look to co-operatives and how they have thrived in rural Newfoundland & Labrador. We need more local co-ops (agriculture, forestry, fishery, crafts, tourism), as well as collaboration from communities, businesses and government.

Live Rural NL 0

Christopher Mitchelmore

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