07 October 2009

The Deader Sea Scrolls

A mere six years ago this month, the Provincial Conservatives were on the campaign trail promising to bring a new approach to the province’s affairs.

In light of recent events, it’s useful to recall what they promised way back then if only to see just exactly how much they haven’t accomplished. For the record, here are the Tory fishery commitments, found stuffed in a bunch of old Kraft Cheez-Whiz jars in a cave somewhere along the coast. Contrary to rumour it wasn’t in Tors Cove.

This is the batch of Tory promises on the fishery from 2003, word for word as they appeared in the Blue Book.  The notes in Italics are comments by your humble e-scribbler.  In some cases, it’s pretty clear what happened but in others there may well be things that slipped by unnoticed.

If someone can update or correct the information, by all means do so.  Credit should go where it is due, if it is due.


A healthy fishing industry must play a leading role in Newfoundland and Labrador's long-term economic well-being. It is the Province's largest private-sector employer. Entire regional economies are based on the sustainable harvesting and processing of fisheries resources, and transportation, fuel, technology and service industries rely on the business the fishing industry generates.

Sound and Scientific Fisheries Management

The industry must be restructured and managed to avoid the disasters of the past and adapt to the opportunities of the future. In particular, a shared fisheries management structure should be developed that will merge federal-provincial policy and management responsibilities into a complementary process for better conservation and management of the resource. It also requires fisheries policies based on the best available scientific evidence, enforcement of Canadian conservation measures, and monitoring by Canada of all fishing activity on the continental shelf.

A Progressive Conservative government will pursue a Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Agreement for a decision-making process in which the federal and provincial governments work in partnership for the sustainable management of the fisheries.

[BP Note:  Did they even try for that one?  Bitching doesn’t count since they also promised a better relationship with the feds based on rationality not  and name-calling.]

Research and Development

The fishery is undergoing dramatic changes. Cod and other ground fish have collapsed. Stocks of snow crab and shrimp have expanded dramatically. Changes of such magnitude require precise, up-to-date scientific information on the marine ecosystem, the sustainable harvesting of fish stocks, and efforts to restore naturally reproducing populations.

Scientists and economists also play a leading role in establishing new directions for fisheries management through research into underutilized species and new value-added marine products, innovative harvesting and processing technology, successful marketing strategies, aquaculture, and the use of marine genetic resources for pharmaceutical and commercial applications.

A Progressive Conservative government will establish a Fisheries Science and Management Research Institute at Memorial University that will provide scientific, technical, and economic support for the sustainable development of Newfoundland and Labrador marine fisheries and aquaculture. The multi-disciplinary Institute will:

  • Undertake research and establish links with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, other federal and provincial agencies, fish harvesters, and experts around the world to provide decision-makers with the research-based information they need to develop sound fishery management policy.
  • Supply the industry with product, technology, market and economic research and information needed to diversify and improve value-added production.
  • Find out how resource management decisions affect people and communities.

[BP Note:  This was such a great idea they made essentially the same commitment again in 2007, albeit in a much more modest form:

    • 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. [Emphasis in the original]

Foreign Fishing on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks

For the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the fish stocks on our continental shelf could be fished indefinitely with proper management, while foreigners see them as stocks to be harvested intensively until they are no longer economically profitable, or are fished to extinction. These conflicting values underscore the need for Canada to extend its management over the entire continental shelf and to regulate both the domestic and international fishery for sustainable development.

  • A Progressive Conservative government will carry out nation-wide public information campaigns aimed at persuading Ottawa to take custodial management over the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, and to undertake whatever regulatory and enforcement activities are necessary to manage sustainable fisheries on the entire continental shelf.

[BP Note:  nation-wide information campaigns?  Anyone recall seeing anything that looked like that?]

A Sustainable Seafood Processing Sector

Seafood processors have to deal with resource scarcity, different species, and markets that are more oriented to value-added products than ever before. Consumers clearly prefer a variety of products that require a minimum of time and effort to prepare and retain as much of their original appearance and taste as possible.

For today's consumers, value-added not only means further processing of raw materials but also consistent quality standards in handling, packing and transporting seafood products. Added to these trends are new applications for marine products in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products, and many other new and useful biochemical commodities.

Workers in our processing plants are plagued with low incomes and inconsistent employment. Part of the solution to this chronic problem is in doing more with what we have and finding new uses for that which we have not utilized in the past. A Progressive Conservative government will implement a comprehensive strategy to improve the viability of our industry and increase employment levels in the Province by:

  • Requiring value-added processing where it is economically feasible and putting greater emphasis on retail packs where possible. [BP Note:  This look familiar to anyone?]
  • Promoting utilization of a variety of marine species in food processing, as well as new industrial uses of marine products in pharmaceuticals, biomedicines, and other chemical products.
  • Forming partnerships with industry to implement an international procurement program to secure primary seafood products for local seafood processing plants. [BP Note: How about this one? Finding raw materials overseas to push through local plants.  Did they even try that?]
  • Encouraging local investment in fishing enterprises and related industries, and requiring fishing enterprises to register and maintain their head offices in the Province.  [BP Note:  Does breaking up FPI count as the complete opposite of this?]
  • Restructuring the harvesting and processing sectors of the industry around the principles of resources sustainability, adjacency, quality assurance and economic viability. [BP Note:  Just going out on a limb that this never got out the door.]

Quality Assurance and Marketing

Quality control is important for the fish processing industry, which is heavily export-oriented. Maintaining high standards of food quality and food safety is necessary to retaining access to international markets, and adds millions of dollars to the value of our annual seafood production.

A Progressive Conservative government will upgrade the Quality Assurance Program to include a mandatory quality control system for handling fish and seafood products intended for export that meets the highest international standards for food quality and safety.

As international markets become increasingly competitive, we must ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador seafood is at the forefront of the global marketplace.

A Progressive Conservative government will work with industry to develop and implement a comprehensive, long-term marketing strategy aimed at promoting the Province's seafood industry with a goal of increasing sales in world markets. Promoting the quality of our seafood product is key to successful marketing, and must play a pivotal role in the strategic plan. The strategy would also include the following:

  • Providing processors with the marketing expertise required to successfully promote and market products.
  • Developing effective techniques for promoting the quality of seafood products in national and international markets through trade missions, product promotions and trade shows.
  • Facilitating the sharing of ideas and experiences in the interest of enhancing the marketing of Newfoundland and Labrador seafood products. [BP Note: Again, just thinking here that the destruction of FPI and the sale of the marketing arm to a Nova Scotia company, along with all the well-established and recognised international brands would be pretty much the opposite of this policy plank.]

The Province will also acquire the necessary expertise to participate in Canadian trade negotiations through NAFTA, the European Common Market, and Asian countries to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador seafood products have fair access to markets in the United States, Europe and Asia.  [BP Note:  Seeing this commitment in 2003 just makes the whole thing about European trade all the more whack-o.]


Many of the Province's wild fisheries are either fully- or over-exploited, and those remaining have to be harvested on an ecologically sustainable basis, which means the volume of wild fish landed around the world will be well below the market demand for seafood products.

Aquaculture offers the main prospect of filling this gap, and will be a significant contributor to the economy of coastal regions in the future. Farmed products are rapidly replacing declining wild species on the international seafood market. Since 1990, values have doubled to over $75 billion.

Although this Province is an important player in the wild fisheries, it accounts for only a tiny fraction of world aquaculture production. Considerable development will be required over the coming years to establish Newfoundland and Labrador farmed fish and shellfish as a viable addition to wild fishery supplies in domestic and international markets.

Aquaculture can be a financially viable industry in this Province and operate within environmentally sound parameters. We have the site capacity to become the largest producer of aquaculture products in Canada, which would bring related economic activity and thousands of jobs to dozens of communities along our coasts.

A Progressive Conservative government will facilitate the expansion of profitable and sustainable aquaculture enterprises in the Province through:

  • Support for scientific research to identify potential new locations, develop technologies, investigate potential environmental problems, and cultivate robust stocks of existing and new species, so that the industry can produce better quality products and receive better prices.
  • Incentives to promote long-term venture capital investments in aquaculture enterprises.
  • Development of high levels of skill and knowledge in the technical, business and marketing aspects of the industry.
  • Working with the industry to raise standards and improve efficiency so as to secure a profitable and sustainable future for aquaculture enterprises.

[BP Note: Here’s the one place where the current administration has done fairly well.  They’ve dropped large chunks of cash into aquaculture and managed to lure a major player into the local scene.  Then again, this was the easiest thing to accomplish.  It only required throwing money into it and that’s pretty much the one thing they had plenty of.