As Eddie Coffey would say, yesterday was a “Grey Foggy Day”. I woke up to a dense fog, thick clouded sky and not a draft a wind. Although, I could hear the little motorboats gradually leave the wharf in my tiny little fishing village of Green Island Cove. As the afternoon approached, it was clear that today was the day to participate in the recreational cod or what in Newfoundland and Labrador is commonly referred to as the food fishery.
A few weeks each summer the Feds designate a time when Newfoundlander’s and Labradorians can take to the water and catch just five fish per person, per day with a maximum of 15 per boat if there are three or more people in each boat. The concept of the food fishery and the heavy regulations are a constant frustration of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
My father was a commercial fisher. In fact, everyone ancestor down my family line on my father’s side was a fisher, stemming all the way back to Southern England. My father and I would go out fishing post-moratorium (post-1992) for a few weeks each summer to fish a nominal quota allocated to commercial fishers capped at a few thousand pounds per week until the overall quota was caught. Since his passing, my only option to catch my five cod like everyone else, as I’m the only person in my family line that never had the option of becoming a fisherman.
As a politician, I constantly speak with fishers and hear their frustrations with the lack of communication in Ottawa regarding our fishery. I hear how abundant the cod is and how much larger they are and this was solidified yesterday when I took to the water to catch my own five fish.
There is a sense of belonging each time I’m on the water. It is certainly in my blood to continue to practice our traditional ways of culture, heritage and way of rural living. One of the reasons I left Edmonton to return to Newfoundland was to be close to the water.
We did not go far to catch our cod, just off Green Island – it is the small piece of land in which our community is named. After a little while tugging on the line, we hooked some – in fact, I got a double!
There were many little fishing boats all around us, including the blowing sound of a whale. The fish were full of herring and caplin. The fish and whale were feasting! It did not take too long to catch our 10 fish, we got 5 a piece and they were some size! I remember jigging with Dad some 17 years ago, but the cod were not as large as these – only a scattered one would the size depicted below.
Cod fish are larger, more abundant and it appears no one is listening. How can it be that so few nets are being used and commercial cod quotas are being filled in days? It’s beyond time to focus on how Newfoundland and Labrador deals with a return of the cod. Iceland has been quite success with their cod fishery and it continues to evolve.
Up on the wharf we showed our catch, gutted the cod, kept the britches and looked forward to a meal. Until we get change at the Federal level, Newfoundlander’s and Labradorian’s will be forced to take a paltry five fish a day.
Something has to change, because 5 fish does not cut it for a resource that sustained us for more than 500 years.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
Rural communities have resilience, and incredible potential. I was truly inspired on June 1st by individuals I met that Saturday in St. Lewis, Labrador.
I really found a love for this place as the people welcomed me into their homes and shared their talents, passions and past times with me and my colleague, Jason Spingle.
There are few places remaining in this province where one will see a wooden canoe being custom-built as a past time by a young man in the community. He may get his inspiration and talent from the senior boat builder in the family, who took time to show the newest wooden flat. We were told, he tends to make at least one a year for the past few decades. My dad was a boat builder. I remember him making his last flat bottom boat in my uncle’s store in the late 1990’s. There are many skills my father possessed that I would love to have. There is still time for me to learn, but the task much more difficult when the one with such influence and the skill has passed on. I encourage youth to learn skills of their parents and elders in the community. There is nothing positive that will come from letting rural tradition die.
The views of St. Lewis from the waterfront is captivating. There is no question about the community being built from a fishing history despite a recent plant closure. Warrick and Elaine are working tirelessly on restoring the family fishing premises and focusing as well on growing local foodstuffs. They proudly showed us the collection of fishing tools, nets, punt and outer buildings they revitalizing in the area. They have planted berry bushes and trees that are growing, although the raspberries are not bearing fruit, the blackberry bushes have netted about 24 quarts of berries. Placed next to the orange shed were fish pans and buckets lined with produce. The benches and gentle waves make it the perfect place to sit down with a book and cup of coffee, as one would watch the sunrise or sunset. A little closer to their home they have a herb garden and strawberry patch. Warrick has quite the talent when it comes to placing stone; there is even a heart. One can sense the passion for renewal and revival of community from these two resilient individuals as we chatted about future opportunities and community economic development.
It was quite easy to find “Love” in St. Lewis. I have many more memories of meeting people and I’m forever richer because of this experience. I look forward to another visit to St. Lewis in the future and I encourage others to see opportunity in their community. Small contributions of new development go a long way to rural revitalization.
We need more restoration, community gardens, viewing vistas and experiences that share culture and learning with locals and visitors in our very own regions. Let’s share our talent, passion, past time and love of where we live with others.Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
The Scenic Pursuit Boat Tours is operated from Bide Arm (Roddickton-Bide Arm). This boat tour operates three runs daily to view the unique coastlines, whales and other sea life. If you are lucky you might catch the glimpse of an iceberg in Canada Bay.
This boat can seat up to 37 passengers and has entertaining music, flavoured coffee and other snacks. As you walk on this boat you will be surprised by the aromas of cedar and abundance of spacious seating. If you like the smell of salt water and the wind in your hair than enjoy the outside or upper deck. The ride is 2.5 hours in length.
If you like something even more unique, you may wish to charter the boat with the Captain, who will take you to the resettled community of Hooping Harbour. This heritage/adventure learning vacation is 8-9 hours in length.
This past week, Scenic Pursuit had Peter Jacobs perform live music on the tour.
Book your tour today!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher C. Mitchelmore
- Iceberg & Whale Watching Tour on French Shore (liveruralnl.com)