While 2018 as a year leaves us, many event announcements took place during this year. The two I personally felt got little action from the NS fishing industry, are the right whale lobster closures, and the announcement of ” NS Provincial Gov’t No Longer issuing New Seafood Buyers/Processors Licenses” – an indefinite freeze on new entrants.

My old trusty dictionary states the meaning of “freeze” as an act of holding or being held at a fixed level or in a fixed state. Over my 50 plus years in this fishing industry, I recall the humble beginnings of today’s major buyers/processors as stories of starting with a single wheel barrow or perhaps NS largest buyer/processor today selling from a half ton truck on the Bedford Highway; or yes, here in my home town of an independent, family, fishermen writing an l.O.U. as a loan and today, that buyer/processor being one of the major largest players in the area. However l feel there are more of these success stories right across NS, so l ask you, the reader, to insert that success story here ( )

These success stories have created the economic engine which keeps our coastal communities going. Other sectors such as boat building, trucking, lobster trap building, supply services, car & truck dealerships are the direct result of this fishing industry and it’s success stories.

At this point, I recall the 1975’s lobster Task Force report which had the NS lobster fishery doomed for failure and the 1977 jurisdictional boundary decision at the Hague (200 mile limit). ln 1990’s came the cod moratorium. As a result, we witnessed the single largest transformation from processor/buyer of fin fish to lobsters (shellfish, crabs, shrimp) holding facilities etc. to present day. We witnessed also the introduction of under developed species. So it begs the question now if this freeze on licenses policy was in place in that period of time, could/would the NS fishing industry have evolved to where it is today?

Before I move on from the buyers/processors sector and their success stories, we need to recognize that this entrepreneurship spirit or formula is alive and well in NS, I would be the first to stand on my feet to applaud their success.

NS fishing groups & associations gave little response to the announcement when the present NS Gov’t froze new entrants of buyers/processors. I could perhaps provide an easy excuse for the major fishing groups. Maybe they are overwhelmed with the large load of issues facing them and they are trying to reach a consensus to find the time to address this work load.

However regulators, can and will do this to the fishing groups. I call it the shot gun approach. Some policy announcements will simply get through. That can and will have a harmful affect on this industry. My constructive criticism here is to change from always being re-active to more pro-active and a development of mechanism that draws attention to poorly designed policies that can effect NS fishing industry in a negative way.

The Fishing Associations should be more vigilant. ln our technology, saturated world, it’s getting harder to pay attention for the fishing groups and yes the grass roots (membership) and independent fishers, must have confidence that their issues are and will be addressed. Progress reports on issues should be easier to follow on major fishing group websites.

How our democracy works: all political parties will respond to noise, whether it is the local Chamber of Commerce, Municipal, Provincial MLA’s. They are all elected or put in place to represent the people of NS.

All politicians should be good listeners. Every politician sets their agenda on what the citizenship’s concerns are .
Opposition parties will always look for weaknesses in the governing party and build their questions based on information on the presentations of lobbyists to their respective Caucuses .Simply put, the squeaky wheel gets the most grease

I came to this point to show the slippage on this major issue of a “freeze on buyer/processor licenses. Without any applied pressure, without any NOISE, no action will happen.

My conclusion is that because the NS seafood industry as they prepare for the future, they must make more noise on this issue. The present buyers/processors CAN feel secure in their present position.

With examples like Canada’s Finance Minister release in 2018 calling for economic statement for a new strategy to boost Canada’s overseas exports by 50%bV 2025; demands for NS seafoods from Asia, China and the EU and perhaps the strongest point, another 2 Billion more people on this planet in the next 20 years indicate a greater demand for our seafood products. However with the challenges of today on our fishing future such as, rising sea levels, temperature, the movement of species, fishing patterns all looking for the Goldilock Zone … it will take all of NS’s local knowledge to address the issues of present day from buyers/processor and yes, new entrants.

The world needs Canada. Canada needs the NS seafood industry with it’s imagination and innovation. From looking over our past history of 50 years, a simple question – why? Why take away a policy that has worked perfectly and throw it away? Or freeze new entrants of seafood buyers/processors’s licenses to address the issues that NS seafood fishing industry will face today, tomorrow and on our horizon?

I truly look forward to Nova Scotian’s and the Fishing lndustry’s comments.
Sterling Belliveau