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Monday 9 May 2011

Have Lobster Will Travel

The Media tend to attract some harsh criticism for only covering negative stories sometimes. Their defense is often that the negative stories are sometimes the only ones available to cover. The old adage "if it bleeds it leads" drives some stories and in the case of the fishing industry in NL the media would be dead on. The Lobster pricing mess is only the most recent bloodletting.

Unfortunately there have not been any positive stories to come out of the fishery for quite a while. This is especially troublesome for rural parts of NL where the fishery really resides. From issues around quota ownership, overfishing, excess processing capacity, global markets, and vessel safety, it's sad to see the fall of the industry that build NL. This doesn't even get into the recent MOU that the NL government completely washed its hands of.

Despite years of various government interference in the industry there appears to be a very serious issue of lack of leadership. Especially from the NL Provincial government.

The latest wave of intense "observation" by the NL Dept. of Fisheries is currently ongoing over the issue of lobster prices. Essentially the processors are unhappy with the price set by the price-setting panel and the lobster fishermen can get a better price outside the province for their product. The complication is that they aren't allowed to sell to processors outside the province. The FFAW has been requesting that the Provincial government change the regulations to allow for a better price for fishermen.

The swift response from the Minister Clyde Jackman is to consider the request of the FFAW and that his office is watching the situation. Well I certainly feel better. I'm sure the lobster fishermen are relieved as well. Of course I could be mistaken since one gentleman just took $5000 worth of product to Nova Scotia to sell. As reported here by the CBC he could have easily sold much more.

Those involved in the fishery understand that the issues are complicated and the recent MOU Report debate just highlighted the fact that there are very divergent views on the solutions. The problem is that the current approach by the Government of NL is to keep it's distance and let it die a slow and painful death instead of showing leadership and making tough decisions.

A quote by the American author Orison Swett Marden seem eerily prophetic in this instance:
"A lobster, when left high and dry among the rock, does not have the sense enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps within a yard of him. The world is full of human lobsters; people stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat."

It has been said that indecision is the thief of opportunity and I can't help but think that making some hard choices could really turn a corner and turn around an industry that is at the core of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

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