Jul 022014

“On the Island” this morning, CBC Radio, an opportunity to make a point  about economic indicators:

RE:  Salmon fishery, increasing the take from 3% to 15%

My experience with DFO and fish quotas is from Nova Scotia where we lived for 15 years.


We arrived in the nineteen-seventies.  The Grand Banks cod fishery supported the economies of Newfoundland, N.S., N.B., St Pierre-Miquelon.  Other nations, including the U.S. fished the Banks. It was a healthy fishery.


We left N.S. in 1990, 15 years later.  The cod fishery, a renewable resource that had been harvested sustainably for five hundred years, no longer existed.   Dead.  People said, “Nature is resilient.  The cod population will recover.”   The truth is that there are tipping points beyond which recovery appears to be impossible.  The North Atlantic cod fishery and all that it meant socially and culturally exists only in memory.  Communities are gone.


A root difficulty for DFO was consistent pressure from Government and Political bosses in support of commercial interests.  Another was our practice of patting ourselves on the back when we are “doing” something about a problem.  It doesn’t matter that the “something” is unrelated to the actual CAUSE of the problem.


The response to distress in the North Atlantic cod fishery was “more money”.  More money to buy larger trawlers with instant- freeze capability that could go further and further offshore. (Which, of course, also made it impossible for local fisher-people to provide for their families.) The response only hastened the collapse.


Twenty-five years later, looking at the Pacific salmon fishery:  I arrived in B.C. from Saskatchewan last year.  I watched the documentary film “Salmon Confidential”.  It confirmed what I suspected: the reason every grocery store and restaurant in Saskatchewan has inexpensive salmon on the menu is that salmon farms are large.  Well,  they are HUGE!  They contribute an enormous amount to the economy of B.C.  I had no idea how much.


The salmon farms are not sustainable, they are not a “right” response to the problem of fish stocks.   But Government and Political bosses will protect the commercial interests, in this case the export market.


Politicians must have “Economic growth”.    But you can see how people who were once self-sufficient are robbed in the process.   If you feed yourself, you and your community will be healthy.   But it will have negative consequences for “Economic growth”.   Anything you do for yourself does not go through a cash register, it doesn’t get counted, it doesn’t get taxed.  And if you and your family are healthy, expenditures on medicare go down.


We measure our progress by economic indicators.  But they are not measurements of success.  They measure a return to serfdom.

  One Response to “2014-07-02 Economic indicators: email to CBC, Fisheries illustrate the faults”

  1. Received by email from Bob, the Qualicum Institute:

    This is great Sandra
    We have been following wellness and the community for almost two years.
    You are right about community sustainability and health.
    The more sustainable the community the better economically it does and the healthier it is.

    The key to wellness was being involved with a group you feel you belong to, you can contribute to, and you are appreciated for your contribution.

    The corporations take away our ability to be sustainable in the community by taking away jobs and closing small business.

    The return to the community by the corporations is very small compared to small business.

    Every community is unique and has unique resources to solve its problems if left alone.

    A recent study showed that seniors that volunteered had a much lower incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    These are slated to be our biggest health care costs in the next 10 years approximately 300 Billion per year.

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