05 July 2010

And no fish swam

For an administration that has always been better known for delivering the sizzle rather than the steak, Premier Danny Williams’ announcement Friday of almost $14 million for fisheries research marks another achievement.

The announcement garnered swift editorial and political support. The Telegram gushed from the first sentence of Saturday’s editorial:

As a general rule, more information is better than less. And that's why the announcement that the province is getting into the fisheries research business in a big way is good news.

So too did the opposition leader, Yvonne Jones and fisheries critic Marshall Dean.  They think that the “funding allocation by the provincial government for fisheries science research is welcome news that should boost the industry’s chances to survive in the long-term.”

Even the language the Premier and the Opposition Leader used was similar.  As Williams put it:

No longer will we exclusively rely upon the research of others to guide the fishery into the future. Today, we once again take control of our destiny by investing in our own fisheries research and development.

Jones chimed in:

Clearly, one of the building blocks in this process [of rebuilding the fishery] has to be sound research that we can trust and use to make strategic management decisions in this industry.

All this is wonderful.  Memorial University and its Marine Institute get a bag of cash with which to hire some new graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.  Dr. George Rose gets a new job as the head of  something to be called the Centre for Fisheries Ecosystem Research.

Even the Irish government is happier after Friday.  The financially strapped country will get a bag of cash – the better part of half the total announced – to help operate its seven year old fisheries research vessel, the Celtic Explorer.

Friday’s announcement is three years overdue. The Progressive Conservative 2007 election platform included these commitments:

  • invest $5 million a year in the province's research and development Crown corporation and dedicate $1 million of this funding exclusively for oceans research, [and…]
  • provide $6 million for fishing industry research and developmental work over the next three years, which will include work associated with the development of new species, new products, new markets and new techniques to harvest, handle, process and market our marine fish resources.

The program announced on Friday seems to have less to do with genetic engineering [2007’s “development of new species”] or marketing and industry diversification as it does something else that does not appear to be defined beyond the notion that locally generated science might somehow be different from that produced by foreign infidels. The research vessel seems to be an idea cooked up on the spot by Danny Williams during the last provincial campaign.

Much about the announcement seems to be ill-defined.  The whole premise – that local scientists might discover some truths that others haven’t found or are hiding – is, itself, highly suspect.  Rose, for example, and other scientists at Memorial are quite knowledgeable about the fisheries ecosystem.  They and their predecessors have been studying the ocean and the creatures living in it for decades.

Perhaps that lack of definition is because the whole thing was hastily pulled together. It would appear that Friday’s announcement didn’t really exist until some six weeks ago. A month and a half ago, the provincial government was getting a political pounding for the latest in what has been a series of failures and fiascos.  The government has no fisheries policy worthy of the name;  that too has been painfully obvious from problems in some sectors of the fishery and the decidedly poor progress on the memorandum of understanding.

What better way might there be to get out of a raft of political sinkholes, one can imagine the Old Man thinking, than to change the channel.  Announce more cash for something  - it’s always about the money with these guys - and trot out the stuff that’s always worked before: the old pseudo-nationalist rhetoric. Never mind that the announcement will fall on a Friday smack in the middle of a holiday long weekend.

The one thing we know about this announcement is that it wasn’t about “[b]etter fisheries management through better fisheries science” and “an opportunity to improve and sustain this industry.”

The problem in the fishery today is the same as it was 18 years ago.  The problem is not a lack of knowledge, scientific (biological) or otherwise. The problem is a lack of political will to make decisions for a fishery that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Cod stocks collapsed because politicians opted to meet the demands of their constituents to keep fishing at unsustainably high levels when the scientists  - federally-funded scientists - said it would be a good idea to slow down or stop.  John Crosbie closed the fishery in 1992 because he had no choice.  There were no more fish.

And there never will be any more cod or any other fish stock for that matter as long as people disregard knowledge and make decisions based on unvarnished self-interest.  Whether it is the head of the hunters and gatherers union who wants to increase quotas on an endangered species (cod), to Open Line callers, or the blocheads who think cod jigging is some sort of racial entitlement or to the politicians  - federal and provincial  - who side with them daily, they all speak based on something other than sound, verifiable knowledge.

So spending $14 million won’t make a difference to that.

Spend $140 million.

Same result.

Heck, spend the entire anticipated cost of the non-existent Lower Churchill project - $14 billion – and you will still have the same calls for continued fishing.

Knowledge is not the problem in the fishery.

Impotence is.

And no amount of money, no army of scientists, no fleet of research vessels will ever find a little blue pill to cure that problem.

- srbp -

Update:  The dog whistling worked.

33 comments:

Ursula said...

The sound you can't hear is my standing to APPLAUD the most insightful and honestly written article on the state of our fisheries.

Ed Hollett said...

Thanks, Ursula.

In putting this one together, I came across a post I wrote in 2008 that touched on many of the same subjects. It included a passing reference to a story someone gave me about a meeting since 2003 between federal and provincial officials. Each spent their time, in the shortened version of the story, trying to see if they get the other to take the political fall-out for a decision they were trying to reach. In the end, nothing happened.

We know what needs to be done in the fishery. No one will do it.

Peter said...

ED! You found your spin! I'm so happy for you. I was afraid you were just going to ignore this one.
So, more science funding is bad. Who woulda thunk it?

Ursula said...

Peter , we are both being subjective in our viewpoints of Mr. Hollett's opinion . The truth lies somewhere within . A year , a whole lot of money and some inevitable mistakes will indicate where.

Wm. Murphy said...

I can hear it now...Murph, gulp some more freshie...Murph, you are torquing again. Oh well, here goes.

Your post is riddled with complete bitterness and distain that I am just shaking my head.

If you break down your distain on this announcement you get the following

- The announcemnet was was too late in coming. ..it was three years over due.

- There is a new job for Dr. Rose and a few other grads.

- the decision was pulled together in 6 weeks and not thought out.

-the timing of the decision was predicated on the fact that gov't has been taking a beating the last few weeks.

- and the Irish are happy (diggin deep on that one Eddie) with the infusion of money to the treasurey


Eddie, you should have a re-read of the post and go find a red pill for bitterness and silliness.

The hell with research...and the hell with making decisions based on facts...

Beat that with a stick

Wm. Murphy said...

Cod stocks collapsed because politicians opted to meet the demands of their constituents to keep fishing at unsustainably high levels when the scientists - federally-funded scientists - said it would be a good idea to slow down or stop

I wonder what research and additional facts would do when assiting with fishery policy....I wonder what the reaserch will do to quell chest beaters in wanting to increase quotas?

We need politician's to stand up and make a decision based on no research.
We need politician's to make decisions for a fishery based on political will void of any research or facts that come from this new agency.


Yea... that should help our argument in moulding and shaping fishery policy.

Ursula said...

I think Mr. Hollett has really hit a HOT BUTTON with this issue .

Ed Hollett said...

@Peter:

Please indicate where I said anything that states this or anything like it: "more science funding is bad."

What I said was that this decision is about something other than boosting research funding. It is littered with dog whistles and since both you and Murph are here barking up a storm, I can only pass on your fine compliment to the people who crafted the Premier's address. They did their job and hit the mark with you two. They've evidently earned their paycheques.

What I did say, though, was that the fishery problem does not need more research: it needs politicians willing to make decisions.

In any event...

Murph, you took the cake with this comment: "a decision based on no research."

You see, the truth is there is research, as I noted in the post. There's tons of it. There's plenty of excellent research done by people like George Rose. other research has been done by political scientists, sociologistsm historians, all of whom have studied the fishery to death in all its dimensions.

There are decades and decades and foot after foot of research. You could build a bridge across the Gulf of St. Lawrence with all the research.

But evidently, the only way you could bridge the gulf between what is factual and your spittle-soaked rant is to make something up.

I think that just about sums up your comments - both of them together - as succinctly as I could.

Wm. Murphy said...

Clearly, one of the building blocks in this process [of rebuilding the fishery] has to be sound research that we can trust and use to make strategic management decisions in this industry.

Would that comment classify as a "spittle soaked rant"?


and this quote that takes the whole dessert menu...

"You see, the truth is there is research, as I noted in the post. There's tons of it. There's plenty of excellent research done by people like George Rose."

You see Ed, that's where you fell asleep because this research is an addition to the research that is already out there. It will be research that will build on the research that has already been done by people like Dr. Rose...it will be research that is based on the ever changing conditions of the North Atlantic and the changes to fish habits and migrations etc...

But according to you the miles of research is all we need to base future decsions. I'll let you in a little secret Ed...the need for continued research is a good thing. Taking a few snippets from previous reports is not gonna cut it. But I guess you are happy with the current level of research. If so...would you care to let us in on how long the existing research complement will be adequate in basing future decisions and policy

You should also go through your post and count the number of times you used the words ..."seems to be" or it "appears that" Essentially you have no idea except to throw out conjecture, like it is fact.

I also chuckle when you equate that spending 14 million will quell the bad news that gov't has been experiencing lately. These guys running the ship are clueless but to somehow think that this was the motivator on this annoncement is the best bit of comedy I have heard in a while.

Ed Hollett said...

Murph, you claimed that I at advocated basing decisions on no research.

That's your position based on a fabrication.

Everything you wrote after that is to obscure the fact your first two comments added up to nothing at all.

And as for changing the channel, Friday's announcement certainly gave you and your friends something to defend and/or crow about.

I guess it worked just fine.

Hang on, I can hear more barking on the way.

Wm. Murphy said...

"Murph, you claimed that I at advocated basing decisions on no research."


and you have slammed me for spelling...nice job Gryph!!

Oh by the way...this is the next sentence...

"Everything you wrote after that is to obscure the fact your first two comments added up to nothing
at all."

Over to you if you decide to do a grammar check

Ed Hollett said...

Wow, talk about admitting you have even less of an argument than when you started.

The world now has a new definition of pedantic.

Wm. Murphy said...

Eddie, if you can manage to string a couple of proper sentences together..how 'bout answering the question I asked.

"would you care to let us in on how long the existing research complement will be adequate to base future decisions and policy?

It must be me... but everytime I see an attempt at rebuttal that is rife of grammatical mistakes..I come to the conclusion that I must be over the target. It's almost like someone who starts stuttering when their argument is going to shit.

Just saying Ed

Simon Lono said...

The biggest myth out there is the "fish stock rebuilding" plan that everybody wants but nobody can define.

Since there's not much we can do in the way of putting more fish in the ocean then that leaves only one other way to rebuild fish stocks.

Stop fishing. Just stop taking them out of the sea. And even that might work only as well as reviving the great auk or the passenger pigeon but stopping the hunt for those too.

When governments and the union face up to that hard fact to the public then we will have taken a great step forward. Until then we are just sitting around with our heads buries in the sand complaining about grains up our nose.

A research vessel provides the illusion of action while postponing the inevitable day of reckoning.

Peter said...

Murph: It's disdain. No T. Tell your friends. It's becoming an epidemic.
Ed: Arf! Arf!

Ed Hollett said...

As always, Murph, it is just you.

The more you grasp at the pedantic, the more you make plain the lack of substance in your argument.

There is no shortage of science. There is no diminution or insufficiency, even though you pretend as if there was nothing or, as in this case, that it might be somehow running out.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, the cry was that scientists knew nothing and that fishermen knew there were fish when the scientists said there was none.

Now the cry from the same crowd is that we must have "our own" scientists who can do more of this thing called "science" - which they do not define - so that we can make "better" decisions.

Well, since the "we" they talk about ignores knowledge and information in order to make decisions, whether they have more science or less or whether the science is done by genetically certified Newfoundlanders or by an infidel race is really all no never mind.

It is merely yet another study, albeit a very expensive one that will actually have no end.

It is the ultimate government answer to a problem for which the government either has no answer or lacks the stomach to decide on: study it. Except in this case, the study is very expensive and will go on indefinitely.

How many times has the fishery been "studied"? Time and time again beyond counting. And what has changed?

How much "science" will be needed to make "better" decisions?

At the end of it all, though, Murph, we know two things:

1. I have struck an extremely sensitive nerve for you, Peter and others of your political bent since you have trotted out all the faded talking points (and which such evident anger), and,

2. Your rapid resort to pedantry (which you now hug onto like a giant life preserver) demonstrates you have absolutely nothing of substance on which to base your argument.

What a surprise on both points has this been.

Ed Hollett said...

@Simon:

With great respect, it is not that they cannot define a stock rebuilding plan. It is that they chose not to define it.

They know the answer. They just don't want to face it. They shift positions constantly to avoid having to deal with what is glaringly obvious. Take the example of the varying value of science and you have the whole thing in a nutshell.

Wm. Murphy said...

Wow Simon, that goes against Jones' release and comments on this issue. According to her the decision has to be based on "...sound research that we can trust and use to make strategic management decisions in this industry."

Simon Lono said...

Wow, Wm. Murphy! Your remarks could have been drafted by the Fisheries' minister's very own PR dweeb! My remarks don't contradict, you simplistic twit, just because I don't parrot.

Do you enjoy having others tell you what to think and what to say? Seems to me that you can't manage basic thought without direction from others. You seem proud, strong and determined to toe the line.

Here's a thought: I assume you have grey cells so please feel free to make use of them at any time.

It's that vacuous and poisonous hypocrisy practised by you and others that keeps me energised.

Keep it up.

Wm. Murphy said...

Calm down Simon...a little excited are we?

You said this..."A research vessel provides the illusion of action while postponing the inevitable day of reckoning."

and Jones said this...Yvonne Jones, together with fisheries critic Marshall Dean, MHA for The District of The Straits - White Bay North, says funding allocation by the provincial government for fisheries science research is welcome news that should boost the industry’s chances to survive in the long-term.


Care to enlighten us about how those two comments don't contadict each other.
Maybe they don't because the parrot shit is in my eyes.

By the way...I have no problem being called a twit but to call the Fish Minister's PR person a dweeb...well that's another matter. If memory serves..were you not a tweeb for a Minister or two? Were you not a parrott for a couple of years?

Just saying!

Wm. Murphy said...

It's really difficult to let some comments go Ed. Like this one for example; "There is no shortage of science. There is no diminution or insufficiency,..."

Then I did a Google search.....(by the way, thanks for the heads up on that site, it sure is handy sometimes) when I came across this little snippet about a Telegram article in 2005.

Just scratching my head trying to figure out how this is not a diminution in science capacity??

Have a quick read...I am all ears on your answer



The largest daily newspaper in Newfoundland, the St. John's Telegram, in February editorialized strongly against the cuts announced by Ottawa: "Reduced science staff, reduced expenses, but better scientific information? Not likely... The cold hard facts are that you don't improve fisheries sciences by cutting $44 million right out of the guts of it... Anyone who claims, as Geoff Regan (federal fisheries minister) does, that the science will get better because there are fewer scientists doing less work with less money is clearly out of their depth."

Ed Hollett said...

So what has George Rose been doing while he's at Memorial?

Bear in mind, as you ponder that question that in one of your two original rants you said my position was that future decisions would be based on no science at all (which remains purely your fabrication)?

And when you are done pondering that and maybe even have an answer, I have a couple of other doozies for you.

Simon Lono said...

*Yawn* @ Murph

It's that kind of fundamental inability to distinguish between parallel and intersecting lines that makes you sitting ducks.

By the way. . the other night i ran into a fellow down on his luck who wanted to buy a mill. Know anyone who has a mill on the market? Anyone? He seemed pretty reputable but I don't have a minister's keen insight into character.

Wm. Murphy said...

Simon

How 'bout you distinguish between the parallel and intersecting lines!

I was never that good in math...only a cracker jack on noticing people who squirm.

For good measure, why don't you tell us how your comments are in sync with your boss?

Ed...the master of deflection. Didn't realize that Dr. Rose was paid $44 million for his services

Who knew?

Ed Hollett said...

like Iv'e said before, Murph: keep it up. Every time you make one of these comments you reflect poorly on yourself and your cause, not on anyone else.

Wm. Murphy said...

Ed

The only thing I am "keeping up" is to ask questions that you evidently cannot answer. Your assertions are all over the map and dare I say dillusional. I have no illusions that you will ever answer my questions....especially when I have shown other readers that your claims are mostly out to lunch.

You said that there was no reduction in research and I showed that in fact there was a 44 million dollar reduction in the budget. But then you seem to concentrate on bobing and weaving even though everyone can see that I evidently have you in a corner as it relates to you saying that there was no reduction in fishery research.

That's okay...let the record show.

And then we have Simon who evidently has no intention to show how his comments are not in contradiction to that of Ms. Jones. Instead we have comments like dweeb and simplistic twit that only shows that I must "be over the target"

By the way guys...hows the Leadership nominations coming along. This must be a secret campaign because I haven't heard a peep. Isn't the deadline for nominations soon?

Dylan said...

The deadline for nominations for the leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party is July 30, 2010.

So far as I heard, Yvonne Jones is the only candidate so far.

I've heard of Danny Dumaresque and Kelvin Parsons as possible candidates but I have no idea if that is true or not.

I think they need someone that can ignite the public interest in the Liberal Party once again. So far, I don't think any of the above mentioned candidates will be able to do that.

Wm. Murphy said...

You are absolutely right Dylan. They sure do need someone to ignite the interest in the Lib Party. It is time for someone to come forward and lead the Party.

23 days to go and not a peep...I am not holding out any hope. ...It is very sad indeed.
It is also sad when Lib bloggers don't address the obvious that the Party does need a new Leader that can provide a credible alternative to the current crowd. It is too bad that that some can't even come to terms that there is a leadership issue.

Ed Hollett said...

Murph, just because you don't get the answers you want doesn't mean your questions don't get addressed.

By the same token, just because you state something doesn't make it a fact. Your fabrications in this thread, especially about my comments, are pretty crude and pretty obvious.

My comments are there for anyone to read and judge. So too are yours and I'll put mine against yours any day for people to judge on their consistency and integrity.

Wm. Murphy said...

just because you don't get the answers you want doesn't mean your questions don't get addressed.


I can handle answers, but in this case you haven't provided a single one.

Try again: Do you think there has been any reduction in fishery science capacity during the last 5 years?


So why don't you put your "answers" up for people to judge whether your initial comment Re: "there hase been no reduction in science" is completely out to lunch

Ed Hollett said...

Three things:

1. You and Yvonne Jones agree on this issue. I find that hysterically funny in light of your evident partisan-fueled hatred of her.

2. I think there is plenty of scientific knowledge about stocks to develop sound management plans for stocks.

There was adequate information in 1992 and people ignored it.

There was adequate information in 1997 and people ignored it.

There was adequate information this year on cod stocks, for example and people like the FFAW boss want to ignore it yet again.

Beyond the biological knowledge there is the other information: history, sociology, economics, political science, all of which point to what needs to be done.

The problem is that your political friends, enabled by you and your like-minded other political friends friends don't want to do what needs to be done.

And just to really make you squirm, this is an issue which cuts across all party lines. As I said, the problem today is the same as it was 18 years ago. Then it was Liberals. Today it is Tories, including people like you.

3. When you deliberately and repeatedly fabricate comments and attribute them to me - the bit in quotes just now, for example - I can only point out that you have once again deliberately fabricated remarks.

As I said before, your falsehoods are yours, not mine. I assume no responsibility for your repeated false statements about my position.

And to repeat yet again, you may not like the answers to questions (because they don't fit your prepared script) but they are answered in full.

Maybe you should call Yvonne and see what you can do to help her out on this file.

Wm. Murphy said...

Maybe you should call Yvonne and see what you can do to help her out on this file.

I was thinking about calling Simon instead!

By the way I never said that Ms. Jones was a bad MHA. In fact there are plenty of things I agree with. I have always contended that she is not capable of being the Premier of the Province. What do you think?

Oh and another thing...I think you should look up the definition of diminution. That was the word you trotted out when taking about the level of fish science in the province

Ed Hollett said...

I think you'd be much better off if you read - and understood - whole sentences.