Monday, September 01, 2008

Commercial view of season, Part 2

Poor fishing season disastrous for Prince Rupert - Thorkelson By Shaun Thomas - The Northern View
Published: August 19, 2008 11:00 AM

"This year will be the least amount of money we have seen floating around in the community in a long, long time." Those were the words Joy Thorkelson, city councillor and United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson, when talking about the impact of the poor commercial fishing season in 2008. Thorkelson made the comments during the August 18 council meeting, and said that the city should brace itself for a rough winter. If this season, with above the ten year average fishing for gillnetters, is considered does this industry survive? If fishers cant get by with this amount of fishing and would appear not to be a viable industry. In 2007, gillnetters only fished 9 2008 they fished 15. The ten year average is 12 gillnet openings.

"We have had a run of about 2.8 million and the commercial sector has only had 500,000 pieces caught. That is absolutely criminal...It's a disgrace," she said. The Area 4 gillnetters 'only' caught 500,000 sockeye( 497,320 actually)...while the seiners caught another 195,938 sockeye and 90,000 pinks. Plus, over 5000 chinook for Area 4 gillnetters. Then there is the Area 3 sockeye the catches of pinks, chum, and chinook....So, its a bit disingenuous to cry the blues and say the fishers only caught 500k fish. For comparison; the 10 year average catch for Area 4 for both gear types is 720, again it looks like they caught to the ten year average. How is this criminal? How is this a disgrace? Moreover, the commercial rep. conveniently doesnt mention catch being transferred upriver to First Nations groups to take advantage of the larger than expected run. Those fish are probably processed at facilities in Prince Rupert by shoreworker Union members.

How can industry people not get the idea that the more they fish with gillnets, and other gear types also, the more negative impacts they have on non-target species like steelhead and weak wild salmon stocks. Until the commercial industry eliminates by-catch of non-target species there will always be a problem with other sectors because of the negative impacts of non-selective fishing.

"If it gets any worse, we might as well not open our doors. We have people with 15 years of seniority who have only had four days of work this year. How can you work in an industry for 15 years and only get four days of work?" The age old union threat line of loss of jobs and the need to fish more....Sounds very familiar to east cod cod fishermen. Maybe they need to check out the term Paradigm Shift...."as a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change" NCSA just happens to be one of those 'agents of change'.

And while she noted that the canneries have made it clear that they will move their operations if they cannot access Canadian fish and have to import fish to process from Alaska, Thorkelson said there could be more immediate impacts on the community. "We could see a mass exodus of people leaving Prince Rupert because the only other option is to go on welfare," she warned. Talk about fear mongering or what?? An exodus from Prince Rupert will occur if they dont get to fish more and more? Meanwhile, the commercial rep mentions nothing about the positive effects on the local economy of cruise lines, the new container port, the newly announced potash terminal, etc.etc. Prince Rupert seems to be doing fine nowadays, maybe just not relying on the historic resource extraction industries of fishing and logging.

"We have some things picking up in town, but that is only going to drive the haves from the have-notes...I think we are going to have more problems at school this year because there will be kids who won't have the same clothes or the newest things like other kids." For commercial reps to relate kids at school not having new shoes because of poor fishery management is incredibly self serving dont you think? But this is standard stuff from their side...and has been for years.
Thorkelson will work with city staff to outline their concerns about homelessness for a Union of British Columbia Municipalities policy paper, but she encouraged council to meet and discuss what can be done about the poverty issue locally. "We are going to see, as apartments go up in rent, a problem with people finding affordable housing.

The Northern View

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