Feds fumble fishing future… politics drives slipperiness on both coasts


If recent events are any indication, thank goodness we don’t have a commercial fishing industry in Alberta for the federal Liberals to screw up. Your humble observer has, for years, brought to light the economic fiasco the federal Liberal government and their NDP coalition allies were inflicting on the open net fish farming industry on the West Coast. Readers might recall that the federal Liberals, over a decade ago, in a desperate move to out-green the NDP, decided to sacrifice a major chunk of the BC commercial fish farming business. The idea was that this politically expedient move would convince progressive urban voters in Victoria and Vancouver that the federal Liberals were the leaders in advancing green ideology and saving the wild salmon. The fact that closing the industry would result in the loss of 7,000 mostly rural jobs and a $100 million loss in economic activity seemed a small price to pay for those precious but fickle green urban voters.
That politically motivated destruction was based on the notion that farmed fish were the cause of the decline of wild salmon stocks. This bogus idea, fanatically promoted by extremist green left groups, has since been debunked by a decade of federally sponsored research. However, the federal Liberals/NDP have shown that when it comes to climate change ideology and related issues – scientific evidence can deviously be ignored. But it seems the chickens, or is it the salmon, have come home to roost, and the feds are now trying to dodge a firestorm of protest.
In their desperate obsession for Vancouver green voters, the Trudeau Liberals have the extremist green left lobby industry for support in closing the fish farming industry. To help the cause, those nefarious folks rounded up support from a coalition of First Nations, except most were either not near the coast nor had a financial stake in the industry. Open net fish farming economically benefits many coastal First Nations by leasing offshore rights and providing employment in remote reserves. Curiously, for many years, as the issue evolved, many First Nations directly impacted by the Liberal closure plans seemed quiet about their economic fate. Sure enough, the big fish companies began to dismantle closed farms and curtail processing capacity. Perhaps that drove home to some First Nations that the loss of lease income and local jobs was indeed real. That reality has now seen those First Nations begin a significant lobbying campaign to stop further Liberal government termination of open net farming. Better late than never seems to have had some effect, as the feds have now postponed further termination until 2029 – conveniently after the next federal election. The anticipated loss of friendly NDP seats to the Conservatives in coastal areas might also have jolted the Liberals to delay the issue.
On the east coast, the desperate federal Liberals have also tried to shore up their declining political fortunes by ending a long-standing Newfoundland economic sore point – that being the controversial 32-year-old cod moratorium. In grandiose fashion, they announced the infamous moratorium would end and allow an 18,000-tonne catch quota – a relatively small amount. Prior to the moratorium, the quota was 120,000 tonnes, which was down from 250,000 tonnes. Regardless, it would give Newfoundland a year to revive the cod fishery, albeit modest, just before the next federal election. Naturally, politically expedient Liberals promise that more quotas will come if reelected.
The moratorium has always been a major aggravation for Newfoundlanders – it’s felt that the cod that is conserved in Newfoundland is then promptly caught by offshore factory ships and Icelandic fishermen. Those foreigners then sell frozen Newfoundland conserved cod back to Canada. Did I mention that the seal fishery’s closure increased that predator’s population from one million to five million – guess what they eat? No wonder Newfoundlanders are incensed with the Feds. Curiously, despite all that economic insanity, Newfoundlanders keep voting in Liberal MPs. Now that the Trudeau Liberals are in political trouble, the cod moratorium is conveniently over – what a coincidence. That’s how (political) science works.
As the fed liberals and their NDP partners flounder on the fish issues on both coasts – a sense of both fatigue and hopeful anticipation is settling into many sectors of the population and economy across the country. That would be – that fighting the Trudeau government’s inane policies is a waste of time – it’s best to just wait them out till the next federal election to stop the madness.
Will Verboven is an ag opinion writer.