2001, THE CHALLENGE AHEAD
2000 was a successful year on the water. Yet in the last year we have had different elections, where the candidates spoke of other industries, and forgot about the fishery. They seem to think that we went the way of the cod. Yet we are most likely the industry that employs the most people, and generates such a big part of the Cape Breton economy. The landed value of fishermen in 4Vn last year probably exceeded $100-million. There were upwards of 2000 fishermen on the water; 2000 processing; and many more jobs in the support industries to the fishery. And our money stays in the local economy.
We are committed to a sustainable fishery for the future. As long as all the fishermen who participate in the fishery can get together and expand upon our role in managing a sustainable fishery, then we would hope to see a bright future ahead for ourselves and the next generation.
The 4Vn MANAGEMENT BOARD was incorporated November 1, linking the organizations : MFU Local 6; North of Smokey Fishermen's Association; Northside Fishermen's Association; and East Cape Breton Fishermen's Association. Fishermen will still remain members of one of these groups, but the groups will be combining their efforts on most of the bigger issues that affect us all.
We will also be having another vote for Mandatory Dues, to be held by the Province, March 1. It would be great to see strong support for the cause of getting all of the fishermen organized together. Each of us has to make a point of voting, and encouraging our fellow fishermen to vote as well.
The prospect of Oil and Gas Exploration has done a lot to unite fishermen, and processors as well, to try to protect our inshore waters from any possible damage to the fishery. There has been a great deal of concern, and opposition, from our fishermen, as well as from fishermen and environmental groups who oppose Oil and Gas Exploration on the Southern Gulf side of Cape Breton. This led to the Federal and Provincial governments jointly calling for a full and open Public Review before allowing any exploration activity to proceed. There is a lot of concern that the CNSOPB (Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board) is selecting the Chairman, and setting the Terms of Reference for this Review. We are leery of the CNSOPB, for awarding these leases in the first place without ever consulting us. We also would like to see a three-person panel, rather than just one chairman for the Review.
But we will do our best to make our points known, regarding the Terms-of-Reference, and the process of the Review, so that it really addresses our concerns. And we would ask a lot of fishermen to register their concerns during this Review, and educate others of the need to protect the fishery. We have not opposed Exploration in the Areas off Sable, nor even off Banquereau Bank, as important as those areas are to our fishermen. We are willing to work co-operatively, where we need to, when the areas are truly offshore. But we feel it's not too much to ask to protect the Inshore areas, that are so much more fragile, and that so many fishermen, and others, depend on for our livelihood. There are too many unknown risks to take chances. This is where the Precautionary Approach should be applied.
One of our ideas has been to commission an Economic Impact Study to show the value of the Fishery in Cape Breton. The study would show how many are employed in the industry, both direct and indirect employment; how much money is generated in the economy; and where our income is spent, as compared to other industries (such as Oil and Gas). We are trying to get all of the groups, and processors, in the fishery around Cape Breton to contribute to this project. One of the follow-ups to such a study could be to have a workshop with the processors and fishermen, to explore how to process more here in Cape Breton, and what other value-added processing we could do with what is landed here.
Issues with Native Fisheries will continue to be at the forefront in the future. We still hope to meet, as the 4Vn Management Board, together with representatives of the five Native Bands here in Cape Breton, so that we may establish an understanding, and avoid conflict.
Efforts that we have made in lobster conservation appear to be paying off, and the plan seems to be that of continuing to increase the minimum carapace-size, in order to increase egg-production, and harvest larger, more valuable lobsters.
MFU Dues for 2001 are $250. Cheques are welcome anytime, either to the Local, or to Head Office. For those on Automatic Dues Checkoff, please let us know of any changes to Bank Account; address; etc. Thank you.
For all of you members that now have an e-mail address: it would be nice to get an e-mail from you, so that your e-mail address can go on our Members' list. Please e-mail me at: email@example.comAlso, don't forget our website at: http://home.nstn.ca/~nstn1910/mfu/index.html
I hope that you all have a safe, healthy, and a successful fishing season in 2001! Please keep in touch. Hope to see you all at our Annual Meeting,
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