The Newfoundland Fishery

Publisher:  St. John's OXFAM Committee
Year Published:  1981  
Book Type:  Paper File - Folder

Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX2294

This brochure investigates the fishing industry in Newfoundland. The harvesting and processing of fish products is Newfoundland's greatest economic boon.

Abstract:  This brochure investigates the fishing industry in Newfoundland. The harvesting and processing of fish products is Newfoundland's greatest economic boon. Not only is the fishery the major private employer, it is the backbone of many coastal communities which are strung out along the province's shores.

Development of this resource cannot be separated from the economic well-being of rural Newfoundland, nor can its importance to the entire province as a means of creating wealth be underestimated. Careful planning is therefore essential if the fishery is going to continue to meet the needs of the province. But who makes the decisions?

There are two major concepts of the fishery being proposed today. One idea, espoused by H.B. Nickerson and Sons of Nova Scotia is that the inshore boats are "quaint" but out of date, that "big is good and necessary." Nickerson would see the rapid development of freezer and factory-freezer trawlers to harvest fish within the 200-mile limit, and with regard to the factory-freezer trawlers - filleting and packaging would occur on board. Not only would this be a big departure from the methods employed in the Newfoundland fishery, it would transform the fishery into an industry requiring fewer ports, fewer workers and much more capital and energy.

The other concept, promoted by the Newfoundland Fishermen, Food and Allied Workers Union (NFFAW) would see a reinforced inshore fishery supplemented but not replaced by a vital offshore fleet. The union favours a more decentralized approach and assurance that the interests of fishermen be represented on boards and committees which determine the future of the fishery. This concept would enable the fishery to continue to support the rural structure of the fishery by which fish are landed and processed at hundreds of plants throughout the province.

Which concept will prevail depends on the power which proponents of both sides hold. The NFFAW is the largest union in the province and has the strength of organization which covers inshore fishermen, trawlermen and plant workers. Nickerson, on the other hand, is Canada's largest integrated fish processor with many connections in the world of big business. Its interest in Newfoundland is rapidly growing.

In whose interests do these two forces work? What direction should the fishery take?

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