12 December 2011

Change in the fishery #nlpoli

Ocean Choice International’s Martin Sullivan was the guest this week on CBC’s On Point. That’s a link to a CBC story that includes the whole program.

The most obvious point about Sullivan’s argument is that it is – essentially – simple and sensible.  The company needs to export fish in a form the market wants.  The company was losing money in the two plants it closed.

The second segment of the show was an interview with fisheries minister Darin King.  The most obvious thing about King’s comments is that he now  - i.e. after OCI announced closures - sounds like someone who understands the need for fundamental changes in the fishery.  That’s something no one has said before, including Premier Kathy Dunderdale and her remarks blaming the union for not accepting a mere 18 weeks of work. 

In the political panel, former Tory cabinet minister Shawn Skinner suggests that the MOU process fell apart and that now OCI has pushed things forward. No surprise there for anyone who has been paying attention, but for some people this will be a smack in the gob.

No surprise either that Lana Payne had nothing positive to offer in either her assessments of the situation or possible solutions.  Siobhan Coady was marginally better, suggesting that the correct role for the provincial government was to squeeze the processors to ensure people in this province got work in at-sea processing.  That’s really just continuing the approach that created the current mess in the fishery and it’s not surprising that Lana Payne could chime in and agree with the idea.

Ditto Coady’s suggestion that the provincial government should be assisting the companies with marketing. That might have been a possible option a couple of years ago, but no longer.

But to then have Payne and Coady suggest that the provincial government needs to get on with the restructuring process was bordering on the laughable.  They just don’t get it.

All you have to do is go back and listen to Skinner again:  the MOU is dead and the government and the union are left to play catch-up as the companies drive the restructuring agenda.  That’s the reality and both Coady and Payne are woefully out of touch.

When you’re done with that, flip over to a commentary by fisheries broadcast host John Furlong:

Change is always hard. Even 'good' change. When you buy a house or have a baby or get a new job. Change is still hard.

It's even harder in the fishery. If you ask most people in the fishery today how they would like the fishery of tomorrow to look, they'll say "like it was yesterday."

That's not the way it's going to be.

Heck, the fishery of today isn’t the fishery of yesterday as much as some people have been trying to pretend otherwise.

- srbp -

Related:  “Building the fishery of the future”, one of the 15 ideas series (June 2011)