The following photo was taken while on the campaign trail this past fall when visiting St. Anthony Bight, Great Brehat and St. Carols. It depicts the lonely harbour, moored boat and fishing rooms in need of Tender Loving Care…an image that is becoming more prominent on the Great Northern Peninsula.
As I read the Northern Pen newspaper this week, some alarming figures pop of the page pertaining to the fishery as the Red Ochre Regional Board representing the District of St. Barbe read their annual report outlining the significant decline in the value of the fishery. In 2008 the economic value declined from $50 million per year to $35 million per year in 2011. There are currently 8 fish plants, 467 fishing boats and one salmon hatchery employing 564 fish harvesters and 499 fish plant workers.
The report said that in 1992 there were some 1450 harvesters and 1560 plant workers while the number of boats had almost halved from their 1992 figure of 1,061. – Juris Graney, Northern Pen.
(Source: Regional Board Maintains Focus on Broadband, Northern Pen Newspaper, Page A3, Monday, November 21, 2011).
Approximately 2,000 positions have been eliminated from harvesters and plant workers in just this one electoral District in the past 20 years. The concerns are great.
There have been significant losses in employment in the fishery in the Straits-White Bay North, evident by the closure of fish plants in communities such as Green Island Brook, Green Island Cove, Sandy Cove, Savage Cove. Flowers Cove, Bear Cove, Englee and other communities. There are crushing impacts for the small boat fisher. Our Rural Communities known colloq. as “outports” are losing the fabric that held them together for centuries.
The evidence is all around us, as we see fishing rooms, sheds and other infrastructure needing maintenance; no longer do we hear the constant buzzing of motors make frequent trips to community wharves, as well, personal wharves are being reduced around the coastlines and not being replaced. The abandoned Englee fish plant is falling into the harbour, and too much raw material is being shipped off the Peninsula leading to a significant loss of employment, creating undue hardships for many of the smaller communities.
There has been a loss of key employers in these communities, without a strategy to create long-term meaningful employment to transition generations that maintains a reliance on the fishery. There are limited employment opportunities for many of these people who are unable to make viable incomes from the fishery. This has forced generations of youth to leave the rural outports to find alternate means to support themselves and their families. In continues to separate families and challenge the make-up of the rural community. The harsh realities faced by our rural communities is one that is creating a lonely harbour as those that remain, soon too may have to leave to support themselves.
Let us not go down this road where the lonely harbour for our rural economies become the eminent reality. The people’s resources must be put to better use to benefit the people of the local economy.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- Mitchelmore calls on Government to take immediate action on the removal of condemned Englee Fish Plant (liveruralnl.com)
- Abandoned Englee Fish Plant, Abandoned by Government (liveruralnl.com)
- Rural Communities are Stronger Together – Keep Government Accountable (liveruralnl.com)