Well, 1996 has come and gone, and we're still here. Where will we be in one year, or in ten year's time?
In the last year, we started with our port workshops, and our workshop for port reps. These seemed to pay off soon afterwards, since more members got involved in going to meetings, and discussing the issues that we are still faced with. It would be good to see another round of port workshops, where we could hear what concerns are the biggest in each port, and perhaps to set some goals for the Local.
The year started with large rallies in support of the Inshore Fishermen's Alliance, of which we were a part. The year ended with the forming of an alliance that included MFU Local 6, The North of Smokey Fishermen's Association and the Northside Fishermen's Association. Now, fishermen who don't belong to any of these could join one and be part of something much bigger. It is also hoped that any of the larger organizations that are not yet part of this alliance would join in. Hopefully we will get to the point where we have all of the fishermen in 4Vn organized, and working together to regain control of the resource.
Many more fishermen have been going to more meetings and realizing what we are all up against. This helps because now more fishermen are able to act as representatives and share the load of so many meetings. It helps even more because as we have more fishermen with more information, then we can have more ideas of how to improve our security as fishermen.
As of November, 1996, the Act to Provide Support for Accredited Fisheries Organizations is now in effect in Nova Scotia. This act may not be what everyone wanted, but it could still help us. We have to get all the fishermen organized.
We should all be receiving information soon from the Province, and a vote should be carried out in the next few months. 60% of the fishermen in an area (Cape North to the Causeway) would have to return their ballot (vote by mail) and 50%+1 would decide. Associations would need 100 members to be accredited.
Senior officials will be coming from Halifax to discuss Co-management with any interested fishermen, and their organizations. This would be a good time to see what common ground there can be to make co-management work here, for the good of all inshore fishermen and their communities.
Co-management, as we define it, could be our alternative to DFO's promotion of Partnerships. Partnerships is a major change in the new Fisheries Act. Only when the new Act is passed will DFO really have the option of shifting much of the responsibility of managing that part of the fishery to those users.
Fishermen, in large part, have opposed the introduction of Partnerships, believing that this is just another, stronger way, of reducing the numbers of inshore fishermen, and favouring a more corporate fishery than we already have. What do we want? Could it be co-management of all species by organizing all the fishermen in an area like 4Vn? Or could it be something else?
It is expected that the new Fisheries Act will now be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and we have asked for a chance to appear before the Committee. A brief is being prepared to address our concerns with the provision of Partnerships. There must be something to insure that inshore fishermen, and their communities, are not sacrificed by this new legislation.
All comments and suggestions are most welcome. Fishermen are going to have to come up with solutions to making co-management work for us, or else it could be used to work against us.
All interested Core fishermen can apply in writing to DFO Sydney for one of the following exploratory permits for Toad Crabs:
You only have to send in a signed letter to DFO with your Core number, and your request for which CFA. Business plans are not required anymore, as decided by the Developing Species Advisory Board. Anyone is welcome to attend the Draw, to be held at Keddy's at Port Hastings, at 11 a.m.
Our Blockade of the Gulf Seiners, on November 2, did a lot to unify our inshore fishermen, and also to get DFO to listen to concerns that we have been raising for years. After the blockade, the Seiners had to be shut down a couple of times. The first closure was due to too many undersized fish. Later on, the problem was a high percentage of spring spawners. The presence of so many spring spawners seems to indicate that these herring are local stocks, and not "4T fish". They were caught south of Smokey, not far from the Cape Dauphin line. The line will now be moved to east of Smokey, to protect the Bras D'Or Lakes stock. A Science Workshop on 4Vn Herring will take place soon, and any information that fishermen have ( logs, etc.) would be most welcome.
Consultations over any fishery in 4Vn should take place in the local area, where more local fishermen could take part. We are assured that this will happen with herring. We will be pushing for it in all species. Our new Area Manager, James Wheelhouse, gives us his word that more decision making will be done locally, not in Halifax or Moncton. If we can avoid traveling to Halifax and Moncton, and make more decisions locally, then we have accomplished a lot already.
The outlook for Cod in 4Vn does not appear to be improving. Our resident stock, which we would need to support a summer fishery, is still in very bad shape. The moratorium is slated to continue. The Southern Gulf.... 4T + 4Vn (November-April) Cod ....is hardly improving either, but the biomass is slightly higher. DFO Minister Mifflin has yet to decide on whether to allow a re-opening for 6,000 tonnes of this stock, as was recommended by the FRCC.
Six thousand tonnes for all of the fleets in five provinces along the Southern Gulf, is not really much fish for anyone. We have joined with the majority of inshore organizations throughout the area to push for a "Transitional year" for 1997. That is to say that we want only a limited fixed-gear directed fishery, not a fishery divided up by traditional shares. If the large mobile fleets were allowed in to such a limited re-opening, then the vast majority of fishermen would rather see the fishery remain closed for 1997.
Our own inshore mobile fishermen support us in this. They could have some cod as by-catch, but in any case, would not have had enough to really direct for. Unfortunately for them, flatfish quotas will be slightly reduced again. It seems that the only things keeping them in business are less fishermen; transfers from offshore quotas; and other fisheries.
Eric Trimm, Con Mills, Carlo Lunn, Albert Leahy, Herman Wadden, John Prendergast, Kerry MacLeod, Clint Fraser, Ralph Head, Jakey Buffet, John Simec, Emmett Jessome, Pat LeBlanc, Anthony Hendriksen, Brian Timmins, Lloyd MacInnes, and Dennis Smith.
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