The closure of the cod fishery in 1992 was to be temporary, yet remains today. It has led to mass out-migration. I was only 6 years old when the cod moratorium came into effect and can certainly recall many families leaving, businesses closing and loss of services. In 1991, the province’s population was 568,000, in 2011 the population dropped to 514,000 – a net loss of 54,000 people or more than 10% of current population, according to Statistics Canada.
The Great Northern Peninsula has been greatly impacted, as the fishery remains today the backbone of our local economy. The loss of population, especially youth and young families adversely impact the amount of tax base available and will push our smaller communities into greater decline. The lack of youth as part of our demographics means we must press our seniors to continue to be committed volunteers longer. These youth that would become community leaders, create new community programs and social offerings or start a business are lost to more urban centres and other provinces that offer high-paying jobs.
Since the first Mitchelmore came from England, they have been fishers. I am the first generation, like my cousins that did not have the option to continue a profession our family has engaged for centuries. Where will this lead rural Newfoundland & Labrador? There are cod in our waters, no question. I could see for myself this summer in communities such as Englee, St. Lunaire-Griquet and Sandy Cove as large cod-fish were landed via small commercial quota or caught in the recreational cod fishery.
CBC Reported: Cod comeback seen off Newfoundland – click for article
In September, I captured this photo at a fish market in Iceland.
As you can see there are certainly giant cod out there.
We need to have a serious conversation about the future of the cod fishery and the role it will play in rural renewal…
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North