“You know it ain’t easy…” adding insult to injury.


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After the 1992 moratorium on cod fishing was enacted, over 40,000 fisherman lost their livelihood – in one day! Never to come back.

The fisherman then turned to lobstering and shrimping as a way to partially recover some of the lost income. As cod fishing, it was hazardous as well. Not only was the actual activity dangerous, the fisherman were at the mercy of the fisheries who set the prices for their catch and it was usually below what the fishermen thought was fair. Blockades were enacted in protest of this, but to no avail. One either had to accept what was offered or not fish at all. Both were terrible options and both were explored.

Image   A blockade in the Narrows at St. John’s harbor.

So, adding insult to further injury, the current shrimp quota has just been cut drastically threatening the remaining few fishing jobs. The article which follows illustrates how much more difficult it has become to earn a decent living. The impact on the rest of Newfoundland will be severe.

Baker | Shrimpin’ ain’t easy

Federal decision to cut inshore shrimp quotas mystifying, devastating for NL economy

By Jamie Baker, CBC News Posted: Apr 12, 2014 6:20 AM NTLast Updated: Apr 12, 2014 6:20 AM NT

The shrimp fishery was worth one third of the entire landed value of Newfoundland and Labrador's fishery in 2013.

The shrimp fishery was worth one third of the entire landed value of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishery in 2013. (CBC)

I wonder how many people casually dismissed the news this week about northern shrimp quota cuts as just more “fishermen crying and whining” about their lot in life. A good many I’d say. And that’s too bad because in doing so you missed something that has huge ramifications. For everyone.

I don’t think people fully understand how huge the decision is. The shrimp fishery was worth one third — ONE THIRD — of the entire landed value of the province’s fishery in 2013. There are upwards of 3,000 direct jobs linked to northern shrimp in Newfoundland and Labrador on vessels and in the plants. This decision could begin to wipe all of that out.

And that means less retail action in the major centres, no more truck sales, reduced industrial activity, less eating out, less spending on creature comforts and toys, less fuel and travel, less disposable income and more belt tightening.

Piece of the action

There are two big players in this issue: the smaller boat inshore fleet, which supplies all the plants on shore; and the larger boat offshore fleet, where processing is done onboard the ship.

Late on Friday of April 4, (a typical time for governments of any type stripe to spit out bad news in the hopes the impact will get lost during the weekend) the federal government announced an 11,500 tonne cut for the inshore boats, putting their total quota at about 34,000 tonnes. The offshore fleet had its quota cut by less than 3,000 tonnes to put it at about 64,000 tonnes total.

To truly understand why this has people so angry, you have to consider how we got here.

What happened?

The shrimp fishery in our waters had been exclusive to large offshore factory-freezer boats since the late 1970s. In the mid-1990s, with the resource showing tremendous growth, then-federal Fisheries Minister Fred Mifflin opened the doors for inshore boats — the smaller 65-footers — to get a piece of the action.

And what a piece it was. It proved to be one of the saviours for the industry in the wake of the cod collapse.  But there was a caveat, and it came in the form of a policy called “last in, first out.” That policy was geared to protect the offshore fleet who had been there first. It wasn’t a big deal, the stock was quite abundant at the time.

Everything carried on until 2007. It was then that the Conservative government through then-Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn came to the province with a new plan for shrimp. The temporary licences that had been issued to inshore shrimp harvesters in the 1990s were made permanent. They were urged to rationalize the industry through combining. Licences and boats were bought for huge amounts of money. Fishermen mortgaged themselves to the hilt because they believed it was the right thing to do for the business and the resource. In essence, they paid the bill to rationalize the industry.

But then…

So, what’s happened since 2007?

The fishermen who were encouraged to invest in their enterprises have had their quotas cut in half from 65,000 tonnes in 2007 to the 34,000 tonne quota we see today.

The offshore factory-freezer fleet hasn’t lost a pound of quota in that same time frame: they had 63,535 in 2007, and they have 63,789 today. That’s actually a GAIN of 254 tonnes.

Think about it: If a trusted advisor told you to invest a lot of money in a business venture he/she controlled, only to have the exact same advisor pull the plug and cost you all your investment and security later, what would happen? They would likely be accused of fraud. That’s certainly a hyperbolic comparison, but it’s close.

The final hand-wringer? That offshore northern shrimp fleet for areas 0-7 is made up of 17 shrimp licences and only eight of them are held by Newfoundland and Labrador-based companies: two each for Ocean Choice and  the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company, while the other four are held by Torngat Fish Producers Co-op, Pikalujak Fisheries, Newfound Resources and the Harbour Grace Shrimp Company.

The remaining nine offshore northern shrimp licences for areas 0-7 are held by Mersey Seafoods in Lunenburg, NS (which has two), Lameque Offshore in New Brunswick, Crevettes Nordiques in Bedford, NS, the Atlantic Shrimp Company in Lunenburg, NS, Caramer in Caraquet, NB, Makivik Corp in Lachine, Quebec, Qikiqtaaluk in Iqaluit and Unaaq Fisheries in Kuujuaq Quebec.

Minister has the final say

So what is DFO saying? Well, officials are saying the resource is in trouble and cuts are needed. I’d have to agree with that, and everyone else on all sides of the equation would probably do the same.

But it’s how the recent cut was distributed that is the real problem. DFO says it has to follow policy, and “last in, first out” and that means the little guys must bear the brunt of cuts. Their hands are tied.

It’s hogwash of course. Everyone knows — and it’s even been re-stated in court cases — that the fisheries minister has absolute power on fisheries management decisions. She could have decided that “last in, first out” was a dated policy that no longer had any relevance given the permanent nature of inshore shrimp fishing licences granted by her own government in 2007. She could have said that adjacency was important and that people living next to the shrimp deserve to benefit as much as the offshore fleets. She could have decided to share the pain of quota cutbacks along more equitable lines.

She chose not to, and here we are.

If you think this year is bad, wait until next year when science shows there hasn’t been any growth in the resource and the quotas are chopped again, following the “last in, first out” policy.

Gail Shea didn’t take the “god-damned fish out of the water” as John Crosbie once famously said. But her decision to cut the inshore shrimp quota so dramatically may end up removing a great many harvesters — and a sizeable piece of the province’s economy along with them — from the equation.

Those who forget the past…


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It’s not bad enough that over-fishing has decimated the cod stocks among other edible fish, but careless fishing is endangering other species as well.There are solutions, but is anyone interested? The drive for commerce and the ensuing revenue wreaking havoc worldwide and not too many seem to care.

This report from Oceana addresses this problem.

Report finds unbelievable waste in 9 major fisheries

Whales, dolphins, whales, sharks and millions of fish die as bycatch in fishing nets every year, according to Oceana.

A dolphin caught in a fishing net. (Photo: Oceana)

A shocking new report from the conservation organization Oceana reveals staggering levels of waste caused by U.S. fisheries. According to the report, up to 2 billion tons of fish and other species die needlessly every year. This adds up to 500 million seafood meals every year, while also killing astonishing numbers of dolphins, sea turtles, whales, sharks and other endangered species.
The report covers bycatch — the capture of “non-target fish and ocean wildlife” either by accidentally catching unwanted species or by catching too many fish.
“Anything can be bycatch,” Dominique Cano-Stocco, campaign director at Oceana, said in a news release. “Whether it’s the thousands of sea turtles that are caught to bring you shrimp or the millions of pounds of cod and halibut that are thrown overboard after fishermen have reached their quota, bycatch is a waste of our ocean’s resources. Bycatch also represents a real economic loss when one fisherman trashes another fisherman’s catch.”
The most bycatch, Oceana found, came from three types of fishing operations: those that employ open ocean trawl, longline nets or gillnets. “Hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, sharks, sea birds, sea turtles and fish needlessly die each year as a result of indiscriminate fishing gear,” explained Amanda Keledjian, a marine scientist at Oceana and the author of the report (pdf). “It’s no wonder that bycatch is such a significant problem, with trawls as wide as football fields, longlines extending up to 50 miles with thousands of baited hooks and gillnets up to two miles long.”
Using data from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Oceana identified nine “dirty fisheries” in the U.S., which they say account for more than 50 percent of all reported bycatch. The Southeast Snapper-Grouper Longline Fishery, the worst fishery on the list, has a 66 percent discard rate and captured more than 400,000 sharks in one year. The Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, according to the report, kills thousands of sea turtles every year and one pound of billfish for every pound of shrimp that it lands. The California Drift Gillnet Fishery, which has a 63 percent discard rate, entangled almost 550 marine mammals in its nets over a five-year period.
Oceana says there are solutions to all of this waste, including banning drift gillnets, requiring turtle excluder devices in trawling nets, and moving some fishing operations away from “bycatch hotspots.” The organization is also calling for greater government oversight of the fishing industry, in part to ensure that people are following the rules and regulations. “There’s evidence that fishermen don’t do [things like using turtle excluder devices] if they’re not being watched,” Cano-Stocco told the Huffington Post.
Reducing fishing bycatch would be a “win/win” for both fishermen and conservationists, Oceana said, as it would allow more species to thrive while making sure that commercial fish that are caught are not wasted.

When do the needs of the few really outweigh the needs of the many?


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The seal hunt – This is one of the most contentious issues around, galvanizing people such as Paul McCartney against it. On the surface, it would appear to be an easy thing to categorize. But there is so much more involved that we don’t usually hear about.
If one is a deer hunter, then a strong case can be made for that activity if it is done responsibly. Culling a herd is necessary for its well-being and survival. Portraying these animals as helpless is good for PR purposes, but letting them starve because of a too large herd size is no less harmful than hunting them. If one is against hunting, then it is just as easy to view it as a senseless slaughter. In this respect, the seal hunt is confronted with many of the same concerns from both sides.
Done for sport, hunting (anything) is absolutely wrong and immoral. For food and sustenance, it’s understandable. Trying to maintain a herd’s health and feed people is an entirely different proposition that certainly has its benefits as well its detractors.. Reconciling these two disparate points of view may be well near impossible. And whatever the disposition of this may be, you know there will still be anger over it. What are your thoughts?

Federal ministers call for change in EU seal products ban

Legal review process ongoing in Geneva, Switzerland

The Canadian government is speaking on behalf of sealers and seal product producers as a World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal body looks at the decision made to uphold the European Union (EU) ban on Canadian seal products.

Fred Henderson loads his truck with seal pelts in Noddy Bay on Newfoundland’s northern peninsula in 2004. — Telegram file photo

While a team of lawyers made arguments in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, at the start of three days of scheduled hearings, two federal ministers again made public calls for a change in the EU’s position.Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea — attending Seafood Expo North America in Boston — told reporters her department hopes the ban will be overturned.“As a government, we’ve always supported the Canadian sealing industry because it supports our small coastal communities,” she said in a teleconference call, making note of government’s efforts through training to ensure the seal hunt is humane.“We have an abundance of product which I believe provides an opportunity for this industry,” she said.In Geneva, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq emphasized the federal government’s position that the EU is treating Canadian seal products unfairly.“The EU allows seal products from Greenland to be marketed in the European Union with(out) any regard in which they are hunted. So in other words, the European Union seal regime does nothing to actually keep seal products out of the EU market or away from the EU public,” she said in a telephone interview.“I think it was very clear in the last decision that the WTO did find, the panel did find, that the European Union ban on import of Canadian seal products did violate the EU international trade obligations. Having said that, they went and used the moral cards issue to not change that (ban).”She said using a moral reasoning for decisions on conservation matters is dangerous.“To go down this path really outside of science puts to risk the whole global food supply,” she said, suggesting it establishes the potential for similar actions against other products.Aglukkaq spoke to The Telegram while side by side with Dion Dakins — chair of the Canadian Seal and Sealing Network and CEO of Carino Processing, in Switzerland to campaign for Canadian seal products and the work of sealers.His trip was covered under $60,000 in funding from the provincial government for the Canadian Seals and Sealing Network, announced in February.“The reality is the first ruling was not catastrophic for Canada. In fact it proved that the Inuit exemption as offered was discriminatory in its application. It also revealed the marine mammal exemption under the EU ban was not applied fairly,” he said.“The disappointing thing is the authority of groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Humane Society International has yet to be challenged here in Europe adequately,” he said. “This is part of my role here, to actually and explicitly go after the false messaging they’ve been spreading about our industry.”Sheryl Fink with the IFAW was in Geneva to submit an amicus curiae — “friend of the court” — written briefing on the seal hunt and seal products, something the court may or may not choose to refer to in its final decision.“I think what’s happening here is, in a way, quite historic, regardless of what the outcome will be. This is the first time this public morality issue has really been challenged at the WTO, so we’re very interested in seeing how it all plays out,” she said.“I don’t want to pre-judge the panel’s decision, but realistically … we need to remember that Europe wasn’t a big market for seal products from Canada prior to the ban. It’s probably not going to be a large market for seal products no matter what happens here at the WTO.”She said the IFAW sent representatives to monitor the international court proceedings since the organization’s anti-seal hunt campaign is considered both a founding campaign for the group and a fundamental issue in the world of animal rights activism.She rejected the idea the decision to uphold the EU ban on moral grounds would lead to a rush of similar campaigns against other products.The WTO appeal body’s decision is expected at some point between April and June.

Today – Any fish, just not this fish.


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For this entry, I considered renaming the blog, “Any fish but this fish.” GMO fish have much to consider, but not much of it is good. Were we better stewards, this would not have become an issue, but we are a hungry planet. Can Soylent Green be far behind?


Genetically modified fish for consumption in Canada

The Canadian Press
Published on March 11, 2014

A U.S. company hoping to produce genetically modified (GM) salmon eggs in Canada has also applied to the federal government to sell its fish for human consumption.
AquaBounty included a line about its application in a statement it released last Thursday, but company spokesman Dave Conley declined comment on the application.
“It is our policy not to discuss regulatory applications, just as it is the policy of the relevant government agencies not to discuss applications under review,” Conley said in an email.

Health Canada confirmed that the department is reviewing the safety of AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon as a food source.To date, it said, no genetically modified animal has received approval for human consumption in Canada.“AquaBounty has made public that they have filed a submission with Health Canada to review the safety of the company’s GM salmon as a food source,” a department spokesperson said in an email. “That submission is currently being reviewed.”The department couldn’t say how long its assessment would take, but added that any decision would be based on “rigorous scientific testing to ensure the health and safety of Canadian consumers.”Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network said Tuesday that until the Boston-based company discussed its application in the statement last week, Health Canada had been unwilling to confirm the company was seeking approval for the fish to be eaten by Canadians.“We see that the regulation of genetically modified products is happening in total secrecy where Canadians don’t even know that the process is underway,” Sharratt said in an interview.

“Here we have our regulatory departments hiding under confidential business information when there’s absolutely no justification. … It should be public information.”

AquaBounty received approval last November from Environment Canada for the production of Atlantic salmon fish eggs at its hatchery in Prince Edward Island, which is the subject of a Federal Court case filed by three environmental groups. Sharratt’s group isn’t among them.

The environmental groups are challenging the department’s decision and seeking the release of documentation on how it was made. Environment Canada said Tuesday it has not yet filed a statement of defence in the case.

Meanwhile, AquaBounty is also waiting for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before its fish and eggs are available for sale. The company’s statement last Thursday said it had not been provided with any indication on the timing of that decision, but the board remained confident it would ultimately receive approval.

“The company currently expects to market AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Chile and China following receipt of required regulatory approvals in the applicable jurisdiction,” the statement said.

—By Keith Doucette


Mermaids, oh my!


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Just for some fun… check out the lyrics and then the article.


“The Mermaid”

When I was a lad in a fishing town
Me old man said to me:
“You can spend your life, your jolly life
Just sailing on the sea.
You can search the world for pretty girls
Til your eyes are weak and dim,
But don’t go searching for a mermaid, son
If you don’t know how to swim”
‘Cause her hair was green as seaweed
Her skin was blue and pale
Her face it was a work of art,
I loved that girl with all my heart
But I only liked the upper part
I did not like the tailI signed onto a sailing ship
My very first day at sea
I seen the Mermaid in the waves,
Reaching out to me
“Come live with me in the sea said she,
Down on the ocean floor
And I’ll show you a million wonderous things
You’ve never seen before
So over I jumped and she pulled me down,
Down to her seaweed bed
On a pillow made of a tortoise-shell
She placed beneath my head
She fed me shrimp and caviar
Upon a silver dish
From her head to her waist it was just my taste
But the rest of her was a fish
‘Cause …But then one day, she swam away
So I sang to the clams and the whales
“Oh, how I miss her seaweed hair
And the silver shine of her scales
But then her sister, she swam by
And set my heart awhirl
Cause her upper part was an ugly fish
But her bottom part was a girl
Yes her hair was green as seaweed
Her skin was blue and pale
Her legs they are a work of art,
I loved that girl with all my heart
And I don’t give a damn about the upper part
Cause that’s how I get my tail.

By Great Big Sea

Mermaid-bashing a common theme

Dale Jarvis
Published on March 10, 2014

Last week, I got an email from a young woman named Erin, who is a Grade 4 student at All Hallows Elementary in North River.

Erin is one of the participants in the Heritage Fair program, a great project which encourages students to explore their heritage in a hands-on manner. Students make storyboards to tell stories about local heroes, legends, traditions and places, and then present their work at a public exhibit at their school. Select students then go on to represent their schools in regional fairs across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Erin decided to do research on the folklore of mermaids in Newfoundland, and asked me for some advice on mermaid stories.

While we have a long maritime history in the province, we do not have a lot of mermaid stories. Erin already knew about the most famous, the story of Capt. Richard Whitbourne, who described meeting a mermaid in his book “Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland.”

Early one July morning in 1610, Whitbourne spotted a strange creature which he called “a marmayde” swimming in St. John’s Harbour. As Whitbourne tells it, the mermaid swam swiftly towards him, looking carefully at his face.

The water maiden had a beautiful and well-proportioned face, and she had blue streaks on her skin instead of hair. The creature was about 15 feet in length, and her tail was proportioned “like a broad hooked arrow.”

The mermaid tried to climb into a boat owned by William Hawkridge. Hawkridge was not impressed with the creature’s attentions, so he hit her on the head with an oar, and she swam off.

While the mermaid has not been spotted recently, her legend has achieved a certain amount of immortality, and for many years she was depicted on a mural by Helen Gregory on the north side of Harbour Drive. What also persisted for many years, apparently, was Hawkridge’s method of dealing with merfolk.

Horace Beck’s “Folklore of the Sea” was originally published in 1973 by the Mystic Seaport Museum. It contains a few references to Newfoundland mermen, including one encountered by a fisherman who was hand-lining by himself in a dory just off the Newfoundland shore.

“At noon, he stopped fishing and started to eat his lunch, when much to his surprise and annoyance he discovered a merman about to climb into the boat,” writes Beck. “He tried to shoo it away with no success, so he grabbed the fish gaff and bashed it on the fingers, after which it acquired a lively interest in other things.”

Another of Beck’s Newfoundland tales involves a second merman, seen in the same area around the same time. When two men were out hunting, they saw a strange creature in the water and shot at it.

“Whatever it was sank,” describes Beck, “but a short time later a dead merman with a black beard and hair washed ashore nearby.”

Not all of Beck’s Newfoundland merfolk stories end badly. In one, a mermaid actually helped a Newfoundlander caught in a storm.

“On still another occasion a man was caught in a small boat in a heavy gale. When the situation became most critical a mermaid appeared, climbed onto the gunnel and conned the boat safely through the breakers to shore.”

One other mermaid story from Labrador has a happy ending. In an Inuit legend, an orphaned boy rescued a mermaid who had become grounded on the rocks. The grateful mermaid gave the boy a hat with a fancy broach as a reward. Visiting sailors recognized the broach as belonging to the King of England, who in turn gave the boy a hefty sum of money for its return.

Here’s hoping young Erin does well on her heritage fair project, and good luck to all the other heritage fair students across the province.

Storyteller and author Dale Jarvis can be reached at dale@dalejarvis.ca.

Words of wisdom from Alan Doyle and Russell Crowe.


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One of the joys about traveling around Newfoundland while working on Arn? Narn. was learning about their culture, more specifically their music. One of my favorite groups then and now is Great Big Sea. I defy anyone to sit still while listening to their music and if you get the opportunity to attend their concerts, be prepared to have the time of your life.

Alan Doyle, the lead singer, addressed a hospitality group in Newfoundland and shared these thoughts. They’re applicable to all of us.

Great Big Sea frontman promotes province’s uniqueness

NOT ORDINARY – The message musician/actor Alan Doyle had for the delegates at Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual Conference and Trade Show in Gander last Thursday was simple — Newfoundland and Labrador is unique, and it’s this that makes it attractive to tourists. The lead singer for Great Big Sea also passed along some steps of success the band has followed during the past 21 years.

Alan Doyle has travelled around the world and rubbed shoulders with men and women from all walks of life — that’s just an ordinary day for the lead singer of Great Big Sea.However, his love and pride for his home province is not so ordinary, and he expressed his sentiments very clearly Thursday to delegates attending Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual Conference and Trade Show in Gander last week.Doyle, who was born and raised in Petty Harbour, said the best thing about Newfoundland and Labrador is its uniqueness — a uniqueness that makes it stand out globally.“The more I talk to people (about Newfoundland and Labrador through my travels) the thing I get most often if I ask ‘Why are you going? Why are you here? What’d you think of it?’ They say it’s different…they love it because it’s different,” he said. “That’s so amazing. We have something that’s different than anywhere else. We have something that’s like nowhere else in this day and age, when everything is like everything else.“I’m blown away with what we (Newfoundland and Labrador) have. The experiences we can offer people in music, geography, weird places to stay, weird meals to eat that they never had before, stories, acting, drama, bars, streets, hikes…the product, the material, the heart of what we sell to people we don’t need to make up, and I think almost everyone (else) needs to do that.”

He said those involved in the hospitality and tourism industries in the province are so lucky to be from a place where the heart of what they sell is readymade.

“It’s key for us (in the tourism business) to be ourselves…people love that and it’s why they come,” he said.

To illustrate the point Doyle recounted a conversation he had with his good friend, Russell Crowe, during one of the actor’s visits to this province.

Crowe is a world-renowned actor, producer and musician, having starred in such films as Gladiator and Robin Hood.

“I wrote a song with Russell, after I asked him why he comes here, and he said he feels like he comes to a different place…he said, ‘I’ve been in Canada (Toronto and Hamilton) and now I’m in a different place…I don’t feel like I’ve been in the same place…I don’t feel that I’ve been anywhere like this place before…That doesn’t happen to me very often’,” said Doyle. “The song (Where We Belong) speaks to the heart of the unique place we’re from.”

Working advice

Doyle’s address was not just filled with anecdotes, but sprinkled with suggestions.

He offered advice on how people in the hospitality industry can keep visitors coming.

“Make a plan, be organized, and work with people —not have people work for you or you work for people,” he said, referring to some advice that was handed to him, Sean McCann and Bob Hallett from Sean’s father, Ed McCann, when they first formed Great Big Sea.

Doyle compared the entertainment business to the hospitality industry in the fact that every day a hospitality operation is open for business is showtime — just like in the music or movie industries.

“They both have a showtime, and there’s nothing more important than to be ready for showtime,” he said, noting this is something he has been more aware of since becoming friends with Crowe.

“You need to be ready. Getting ready is something you can do nine times out of 10. The most successful people are ready for what they have to do. You can’t fake being ready.”

Doyle told the audience of a recent experience he had requiring a level of readiness from a hospitality operator that proved just what he was saying about readiness brings success.

Just a few weeks ago he was stranded at the Inn when the ferry didn’t run.

However, he said, the operators of the Inn are ready for such incidents, and he was flown to St. John’s so he could meet his other obligations, while an Inn staff member drove his vehicle back to St. John’s.

“They’re ready, and I can’t stress it enough that you need to be ready.”

The third bit of advice he passed along was that in the world of business you need to do whatever it takes to be successful.

“You need to do whatever the days asks of you, not what you would hope the day would ask of, not what you thought it would ask of you, or not what is convenient, ” he said. “People need to do the good and the bad stuff…it’s the small stuff, if they go wrong, that results in big problems. You need to do whatever it takes.”

These have been three of the strategies followed by Great Big Sea, and himself, have followed to earn success.

“I wish you luck with it all,” he said in closing.

What will it take to learn some lessons?


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In my book, Arn? Narn., I document what has happened to rural Newfoundland because of the collapse of the fishing industry. That happened in 1992 and nothing has really changed since then. Reading the following article begs the question, “So why hasn’t anyone learned anything from that?”

This is from The Telegram in St. Johns, Newfoundland. As it says in the opening, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.


Fact vs fishing

Published on March 01, 2014

To paraphrase: those who don’t learn from history are doomed to mess the same things up all over again. And nowhere does that seem more obvious than in federal fisheries policy.

Most people in this province with any connection to the fishery remember the failure of cod stocks off this province, and the outcry over the fact that scientists had indicated the stocks were failing, but that the federal government went ahead and set higher-than-recommended quotas anyway.Well, a court case in British Columbia should make people wonder if the cod crisis taught anyone anything.The federal fisheries minister, Gail Shea, made a decision to reopen three herring fishing zones off the B.C. coast, and was promptly taken to court by five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. The First Nations won their case after a federal court judge granted an injunction stopping the fishery — but what’s even more fascinating is the evidence that turned up in the case.One piece was a six-page scientific recommendation — agreed to all the way up to associate deputy minister David Bevan — that told Minister Shea the science showed the fishery should remain closed for conservation purposes.At the foot of the recommendation, the minister wrote a checkmark in the “do not concur” box, and added a handwritten note saying, “The minister agrees to an opening at a conservative 10 per cent harvest rate for the 2014 fishing season in the three fishing areas.”Her department says no, but the minister says yes. Hers was the only voice that mattered.Questioned on the court case in the House of Commons, Shea came up with the remarkably unbelievable “My decision to reopen the herring fishery in the three previously closed areas was based on the department’s scientific advice. In fact, the stocks in question were more than 7,000 tonnes higher than what science required for reopening.”

How much nerve does it actually take to be a federal cabinet minister, anyway? And could she have said the same thing under oath?

The House of Commons may have to accept that every member of Parliament is honourable when they speak. More and more, it’s hard to accept that concept: it’s also hard to ignore the similarities to an earlier case where Conservative cabinet minister Bev Oda slashed funding for international aid and blamed the decision on her staff. Documents cutting the funding surfaced, with a mysterious “not” added, effectively cancelling out a recommendation to fund the group.

But back to the case at hand.

If the federal fisheries minister cannot even be counted on to take the clear-cut advice given by experienced scientists — and then argue that she made her decision on the basis of science — why shouldn’t every quota decision be challenged in court, just as a matter of course?

At least that way Canadian citizens will actually know what the science says. After all, as has been made abundantly clear already, those scientists are gagged and unable to talk about their research under the current administration.

Clearly, decisions in the fishery are being made on another basis than the protection of fish stocks, and everyone has a right to know what that basis might be.

Seventeen months and ten years.


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On the eve of the tenth anniversary of my first trip to Newfoundland to start the photography on the book which was to become Arn? Narn, I find myself still deeply involved with it and Newfoundland. And that’s a really good thing.


After the publication, there was a whole bunch of interest in the book. Good reviews, even some great ones. TV and radio appearances. Guest blogging. Magazine and newspaper articles. Ah, my somewhat longer than 15 minutes of fame. And truth be told, I loved it. But as I expected, it calmed down after a couple of months. After all, it’s not like I won the Pulitzer or something.

But a funny thing happened on the way to 2014. Interest has picked up. Late last year, the Houston Center for Photography added it to their library displaying uncommonly good judgement.

A couple of weeks ago, the Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon added it to their library. This could be an epidemic. Actually, it’s the results of continued marketing. Still, they see a place for the book upon their shelves.

Last week though, I was gob-smacked. Out of the blue (they stumbled across this blog!), I was contacted by an agency that wanted to use some of the work for their Home from the Sea John C. Crosbie Sealers Interpretation Center in Elliston, Newfoundland! I am so flattered by their request. Coming from Newfoundlanders, it is perhaps one of the greatest compliments I can receive for the book.

It will be in a section about Landsmen, those who hunted seals from shore or with small boats before the rise of sealing fleets. To learn more about it, visit the website,  http://www.homefromthesea.ca .

I do not fall on either side of this issue, refusing to allow politics to enter. It is not for me to judge. I respect it for it was and what it is. So should we all. Preserving history is important. Denying history is foolish.

Cowboys from Newfoundland.


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I really hope this comes to Discovery Channel in the US.

‘Cold Water Cowboys’ puts spotlight on Newfoundland


Cold Water Cowboys
(Cold Water Cowboys/Facebook)

It says something about Newfoundland’s legendary hospitality that when fishing boat captain Richard Gillett is talking to a reporter from the mainland – as those on the Rock refer to the rest of Canada – he does his best to tone down his accent a bit.

“I’m talking to you right now, and I’m trying to do the best that I can,” says Gillett with a laugh, on the phone from his home on Newfoundland’s northeastern shore.

“I can tell you, if you were here now with me and my dad, and we were into a conversation, you’d be looking at the two of us sayin’, ‘What kind of language is this?’”

Viewers might be asking the same thing when they tune into Cold Water Cowboys, a new reality series that follows the captains and crews of several Newfoundland-based fishing boats. Think Deadliest Catch, but with smaller vessels, more bleeped-out swearing and accents so delightfully thick that sometimes subtitles are needed.

“One of the producers told me, ‘Speak English, speak English!’” recalls Gillett, who captains the Midnight Shadow, based in the scenic coastal town of Twillingate. “But when we get out and everybody gets excited and a bit of fish is on the go… it’s understandable they got subtitles on us. Because some people do have a little bit of trouble understanding.”

Premiering Tuesday on Discovery Canada, Cold Water Cowboys follows six boats as they ply the waters of the North Atlantic in search of crab, mackerel, herring and more. After the 1992 cod moratorium that devastated Newfoundland’s fishing economy, the fishermen who have stuck it out must voyage much farther from home than their fathers and grandfathers did.

It’s hard and dangerous work, as seen in the show’s first episode when a stabilizer snaps off one of the boats and threatens to puncture its hull.

“In the blink of an eye, it went from a boring steaming trip to the dangers of a stabilizer breaking off and piercing the boat and the boat going to the bottom and the guys ending up in the drink,” says Gillett.

Gillett, a fifth-generation fisherman, says he and the other captains were initially a bit wary about having camera crews on their boats. “When it first started off, I expressed my views that I didn’t want anything staged,” he says. “I told them I’ve been at this long enough now that you’re going to see stuff break and you’re going to see trouble and you’re going to see dangerous situations.”

But the final product is an accurate look at the captains, crews and their communities, something else Gillett says sets it apart from Deadliest Catch.

“This show is not only about fishing,” he says. “This show shows the communities and the families and the relationships between the fishermen and the communities.”

Because really, Newfoundland is as much a star of the show as the fishermen are, b’y.

“As far as I’m concerned, the beauty of Newfoundland is second to none,” says Gillett. “In the summertime I can sit down on my bridge and watch the whales feed on small capelin. I’ve had times there have been 21 icebergs out in front of my place. Where else in the world can you do that?”

Twitter: @stevetilley


To hell with fish, we got oil! Be careful of what you wish for.


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Next up in the hunt for Gulf oil riches: Newfoundland

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

As Quebec moves to open a new oil play on an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland’s regulator is set to issue a report that will help determine the pace of development in its waters in the Gulf.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has concluded its environmental assessment of oil exploration in the Gulf. The report, which is expected in the coming weeks, will set the stage for Corridor Resources Inc.’s effort to get a drilling licence for its Old Harry prospect in the Gulf.

As Newfoundland’s board completes its assessment, Quebec is expected to soon release its strategic review of its oil and gas prospects, including the environmental risks of operating in the Gulf. The province is also negotiating with the federal government to establish a joint regulatory board, similar to those that manage the offshore industry in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.Both provinces are weighing the concerns of fishermen, aboriginal communities and environmentalists, who worry about the impact of hydrocarbon drilling on marine life in the Gulf, against the prospect of opening a new oil and gas frontier that would create jobs and generate revenue for governments.

The industry is hoping that exploration activity over the next two years will give a better indication of the resource base, including size and whether it’s dry gas or liquids.

Some believe that early success would spur cautious governments to move more quickly to encourage further exploration.

“There is a general view from industry that the area holds some promise,” said Paul Barnes, St. John’s-based vice-president of the Canada Association of Petroleum Producers. “There would be prospects that could straddle both sides, so as an industry we want the regulatory clarity for the whole area.”

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois took a big first step in transforming the province into an oil producer last week when she announced the government would launch a joint venture and provide up to $115-million to help finance $190-million in exploratory work on Anticosti Island, which is believed to sit atop promising quantities of oil and gas.


It was tough enough then, now…

Provincial opposition critics and environmentalists slammed the decision, which would see companies drill exploration wells using hydraulic fracturing techniques. The fracking debate has roiled the province and the government has maintained a moratorium in the St. Lawrence lowlands, where companies such as Questerre Energy Corp. have shale gas leases.

In one Anticosti deal, state-owned Ressources Quebec will partner with Corridor, Petrolia Inc. and Paris-based Maurel & Prom, France’s second-largest oil company, which is active in 12 countries including offshore Africa and the Caribbean. Ressources Quebec will also work with Junex Inc. in a separate effort.

Critics worry the Anticosti effort coupled with a decision to allow drilling at Old Harry would provide momentum for the industry throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. New Brunswick has also begun talks with Ottawa to establish a joint offshore board in anticipation of a land rush that could result from a successful Old Harry well.

“Environmentally speaking, this is a horror story,” said Sylvain Archambault, director of the St. Lawrence Coalition in Quebec City.

Mr. Archambault said he doesn’t expect Quebec to proceed with offshore drilling in the near future, due in part to the border dispute with Newfoundland and the lack of a federal-provincial management board for Quebec. But he said that could change quickly with success on Anticosti or at Old Harry, though the two prospects have very different geology.

Corridor still has to stickhandle past opponents who want no drilling in the Gulf. The regulatory review is essentially an update of a 2007 assessment, which concluded the exploration drilling would not put undue risk on the marine environment. But since then, residents of all four provinces bordering the Gulf have organized opposition to Corridor’s plan.

Corridor chief executive Phillip Knoll said the company is still hopeful it can obtain a drilling licence, and would then look for a larger partner to help finance an exploration program. Under proposed new federal rules, energy companies operating in Canada’s offshore need to post $100-million cash bond and have at least $1-billion in assets.

A successful well would “create momentum and interest from the industry,” Mr. Knoll said. “The industry works in a herd mentality so if there is any modicum of success offshore with Old Harry, you’ll see a number of other parties get interested.”

The more things change…


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So even with revenues from oil bolstering the economy of Newfoundland, it still faces an uncertain future as the oil is expected to run out. This is the ongoing problem with n culture or society based on an extraction economy.

Population of Newfoundland and Labrador predicted to plunge over next 20 years

Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, February 9, 2014 2:32PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 9, 2014 4:24PM EST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Over Newfoundland and Labrador’s good-news story of economic renewal looms a demographic dilemma: a population plunge that’s projected to be the most dramatic slide in the country.

The Conference Board of Canada’s most recent long-term forecast predicts the province’s population will fall from about 527,000 now to 482,000 by 2035.

“We’re going to see much weaker economic prospects for Newfoundland over the next 20 years and that will have an effect on the population,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director of the board’s provincial forecast.

“I would say it’s going to be a difficult situation for the province.”Despite baby bonus incentives and other government efforts since 2008, Bernard said the population is expected to shrink more here over the next two decades than any other part of Canada. An aging demographic will be compounded by out-migration of workers — especially if offshore oil production wanes as expected, she said.

The board’s forecast considers fertility rates, major economic developments and trends such as interprovincial migration and immigration.

Recent offshore oil discoveries in the Flemish Pass, if developed, could brighten the picture but are not certain, Bernard said.

Statistics Canada demographer Laurent Martel said a major issue is that deaths in the province exceed births. It’s a troubling reversal of what’s referred to as natural increase. For example, the Canadian population as a whole is growing even without immigration due to about 130,000 more births per year than deaths, he explained.

“Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province for which up to now we’ve seen three years of negative natural increase,” Martel said from Ottawa.

From July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, there were 286 more deaths than births, according to the most recent statistics.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s birthrate, at 1.45 per woman as of 2011, is second lowest in the country next to British Columbia at 1.42.

The provincial government in 2008 introduced benefits offering parents $1,000 for each child born or adopted, plus $100 per month for the first 12 months after adoption or birth. The number of births came up slightly, according to Census records, but with 4,420 registered in 2013 that has now dropped back below rates recorded before the incentives were introduced.

The provincial government notes that the overall population of 527,000 is up almost 18,000 since 2007. It says it’s working on a growth strategy that includes specific labour market needs, family-friendly policies and immigration.

Another challenge is the extent to which residents are greying. Provincial human resources officials have projected 70,000 job openings by 2020 mainly due to retirement or death.

Kevin O’Brien, the advanced education and skills minister, said yearly immigration has increased to more than 700 newcomers from 450 since 2007. He said a provincial nominee program that helps recruit people for hard-to-fill jobs has been key to that success.

Liberal Opposition critic Lisa Dempster said the Progressive Conservative government must do much more. Ministers talk a good game about the importance of immigration but last spring’s deficit-laden budget cut funding for the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism almost in half, she said in an interview.

“That tells you where it is on the list of priorities but yet the need is very great for us to have some strategies in place in this area as well.”

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said another major gap is in regulated, affordable child care.

“A full child-care program integrated into full early childhood education, including all-day kindergarten, would really go a long way towards encouraging young people to stay here and to have families here,” she said in an interview.

Paul Davis, the child, youth and family services minister, told the legislature Dec. 2 that the province now has 7,787 regulated child-care spaces — up almost 70 per cent since the Tories took power in 2003. More spaces will be created as part of a 10-year strategy, he said.

Dempster said those services still pale compared to the needs of about 50,000 children under the age of 10 in the province.

The former employment counsellor also said labour gaps could be better filled with a streamlined focus on getting newly trained apprentices into jobs.

“It’s like trying to get blood from a turnip for these people to find work.”

In my book, Arn? Narn. I wrote about the death rate outstripping the birth rate. Couple that with the projected diminishing oil production and Newfoundland will find itself back in 1992 again. Out-migration will once again occur further weakening the island economy. This is not a healthy cycle or hopeful cycle. The future is anything but certain.
I just want to post a personal note here. The creation of Arn? Narn. has been one of the most significant events in my life. Learning about Newfoundland, its people, culture, problems, etc., has increased my sensitivity to these and other such issues. One of the real pleasures, if indeed that is the proper word, has been sharing this story wherever I can. So it is with much pride that I write that the Houston Center for Photography has added Arn? Narn. to its library.

So, now what?


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This was posted by the CBC on February 9, 2014. It seems nothing has changed yet everything is changing.

Baker | Cod: The great mystery

By Jamie Baker, CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2014 9:49 AM NT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2014 9:49 AM NT

In recent years, cod has accounted for about $10 million in a fishery that had a landed value around $600-700 million, reports Fisheries Broadcast host Jamie Baker.

In recent years, cod has accounted for about $10 million in a fishery that had a landed value around $600-700 million, reports Fisheries Broadcast host Jamie Baker. (CBC)

There can’t be too many things more confusing for the casual fisheries observer than cod.

See, we had cod. Lots of it, then we lost it. But now we have it again … maybe.

It’s worthless. Nobody wants it. Fishermen are lucky to get 50 cents a pound for it. That’s if anybody will even buy it. But it’s worth north of $20 per pound in some international markets. But there’s no market. Our quality is bad, but also, our quality is great.

It’s an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, engulfed in a mystery — and surrounded by big honking piles of head scratching.

How many times have we received photos, phone calls and emails from people on The Fisheries Broadcast about the price and demand for cod here and abroad? It’s almost daily.

Just a recent sampling includes:

- An email from folks going to Costco and taking heed of the fact the price for fresh fillets is $19.99 per kilogram ($8.61 per pound) and salt fish is going for $16.99 per kilogram ($7.71 per pound). Those prices match, give or take a few cents many of the prices found around St. John’s.

- A text message form a Newfoundlander visiting Napa Valley in California including a picture of a price board showing east coast cod fillets at $24.95 per pound.

- An interview with the Nova Scotia producers who say they never have much trouble selling their cod (although a small amount compared to here) or haddock catch into the U.S.

No sale for cod in 2013

And yet, in 2013 there was a significant period of time when nobody would buy freshly caught cod in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thousands of tonnes of cod was left in the water as a result. It has reached a point where the province’s fisheries minister, Keith Hutchings, is willing to consider a proposal from fishermen to ship whole cod out of the province unprocessed and into US markets.

Seafood market experts say much of the world has moved on from cod, and whatever global market there is remaining is being stuffed to the gills with product from Norway, Iceland and the like.

At the same time, we hear suggestions here that quality is a problem with Newfoundland and Labrador cod, and that improving the fishery and the raw material price will mean focusing more on producing a more premium product instead of the infamous cod block that we did in the past.

Newfoundland fish … from Nova Scotia

Confused yet? Consider the following: In 2007, the provincial government in Nova Scotia commissioned what was quite simply called a “Market and Product Development Study for the Salt Fish Industry In Nova Scotia.”

The report notes that at the time salt fish was fetching about $25 per pound in Brazil. In fact, in 2006, Brazil imported $183 million dollars worth of salt fish – of which more than half was cod.

But the Nova Scotians discovered they had a branding problem with the salt fish they were sending into Brazil, and that’s because most Brazilians recognize all salt fish as being Newfoundland fish! In fact, it notes that Brazilians – and a great many Portuguese for that matter – refer to most any salt fish as “Bacalhau da Terra Nova.”

The brand was so powerful and well recognized in Brazil, the report suggested it might be okay to leave well enough alone and just keep trading under the Newfoundland brand name!

The study states that, “The most appropriate brand name for Brazil [as with Portugal] would probably be “Bacalhau da Terra Nova” (Newfoundland) as this is a known product, at least to a portion of the market; but  this would conflict with a Nova Scotian identity. However, since about 95 per cent of imported salt fish is split-dried, and not fillets, it is uncertain if a brand is necessary immediately.”

Getting prepared

By now you must see why the cod fishery is such a confusing and confounding conundrum here.

In recent years, cod has only accounted for about $10 million in a fishery that had a landed value around $600-700 million. But with changing ocean environments becoming more favourable for groundfish, the betting in most quarters is that cod – as well as much more valuable species like halibut and turbot – is going to be much more important in overall mix in the years to come.

So not only does the industry have to get it figured out, but it also has to be prepared for it. That means having a full evolved plan that includes harvesting, processing, resource management/science, and of course, marketing and branding. After all, we’ve been out of the cod business since 1992.

As a wise man once said, sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping the challenging times pass does nothing but leave one open for an awful kick in the ‘arse.

I don’t want to say I told you so, but…


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This is from an article on the Discovery Channel’s website. It underscores what is a still growing problem in over-fishing already decimated fish stocks.

Tasty Fish Grow Smaller in Warming Ocean by Tim Wall

Fish sandwiches may be skimpier in the future as the planet’s oceans continue to warm.

Biologists measured progressively smaller average lengths of edible fish in the northern Atlantic Ocean between 1970 and 2008. Six economically-important fish species — haddock, herring, Norway pout and plaice — declined in length by an average of 23 percent.

The fish lived in different environments from bottom-dwelling plaice to surface-skimming herring. The range of habitats suggested that some common factor was altering the entire ocean community in the North Sea, a section of the Atlantic rimmed by Scandinavia, Great Britain and Germany.

ANALYSIS: Climate Change Could Shrink Animals

During those same 38 years, the average seafloor water temperature increased by 0.2–0.6 degrees Celsius per decade, for a total of one to two degrees C, in the North Sea. Besides the increasing water temperature, no other factor, such as commercial fishing, affected the fish universally, noted the authors of the study published in Global Change Biology. The biologists concluded that climate change may be shrinking economically important fish species.

“We would anticipate that synchronous reductions in length across species could be occurring in other regional seas experiencing a strong degree of warming,” study leader Alan Baudron of the University of Aberdeen, told the Guardian.

However, not every fish measured by the study declined. Sole and cod both approximately maintained their sizes. Haddock and whiting, on the other hand, decreased in length by approximately 29 percent in parts of their ranges.

ANALYSIS: Animals, Plants Shrinking as Climate Warms

North Sea fisherman’s commercial success may decrease along with the shrinking fish. The weights of individual fish caught declined by between three and 48 percent between 1978 and 1993, noted the biologists. Plaice and haddock suffered most serious declines in weight.

As the ocean warms, less oxygen dissolves into the water. Fish depend on that dissolved oxygen to breathe. Smaller fish in the North Atlantic may survive better in oxygen poor waters, wrote the study’s authors, since the animals need to intake less of the dissolved gas.

And a partridge in Logy Bay – Christmas in Newfoundland.


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A Merry Christmas to all!

From the  Telegram in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Trailer12 Fogo Island.

Making the cut for the Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count, the world’s longest-running citizen science wildlife census, is 114 years old. “Are you a bird watcher?” asked Paul Linegar when I called him at home to volunteer my family for this year’s Christmas Bird Count.

I wasn’t sure how to respond. I knew “I can’t tell a crow from an eagle” would not get me the job. But I couldn’t lie.

“I am not a birder, but I love birds.” I figured this would be a more appropriate response.

It’s true. I spent this past summer running up the Cuckold’s Cove Trail to see if Lucky, the eaglet, had finally ventured out of the nest. Last February at Bowring Park, I was thrilled to meet the red-footed goose even though I could’ve sworn he was a duck. And as soon as I heard about the wayward snowy owls, I headed straight to Cape Spear.

“Any owl sightings today?” I asked the first guy I saw after pulling in.

“There’s one right there,” he said pointing to a rock on the north side of the parking lot.

Well now, this birding thing is easier than I thought.

The owl was an exquisite creature, its thick white feathers barred with brown and its head pivoting this way and that like a weathervane. We were only there a minute or two when the white ball of feathers took flight, its massive wings reaching down to almost touch tips under its body.

The white plume landed on a rock in the bog to the south of the parking lot where the barracks used to be in the Second World War.

He sat stock still on a small bluff, keeping his big round eyes trained on the long lenses pointed his way. He didn’t seem scared, just curious.

It was at this point I noticed a half dozen other groups scattered throughout the bog, no doubt viewing this guy’s feathery buddies. Now I can’t wait to go to Cape Race to see the Harry Potter invasion.

All this to say: if I know what bird I’m looking for, I should be able to identify it.

Plus I’ll take descriptive notes and photos so if I can’t identify something in the field, I can always bring home a picture and cheat notes and go from there.

This seemed good enough for Paul Linegar and he signed me up for the stretch of trail between Torbay Point at the end of Doran’s Lane in Outer Cove to Red Cliff in Logy Bay. I am excited to finally be a part of the world’s longest-running citizen science wildlife census.

The Christmas Bird Count started in 1900, when an American named Frank Chapman asked people all across North America to count birds and submit the results to him.

Chapman’s census has grown to include thousands of counts throughout the States, Canada and further south.

The results of these counts are compiled and allow researchers to get a better handle on how many feathered creatures are where during one specific period.

Here in Newfoundland, the Christmas count takes place on Boxing Day, regardless of weather. Fourteen designated areas from Wabush-Labrador City to Ferryland each cover a 24-kilometre circle administered by a local birder.

Paul Linegar, my bird boss, will collect data from volunteers who walk in his circle which stretches from Torbay in the north to Paradise in the west and the Goulds in the south.

If you are interested in helping out and can tell a puffin from a partridge, and don’t mind walking outside in severe weather, consult the following site which shows leaders’ names and co-ordinates: www.birdscanada.org/volunteer/cbc/index.jsp?targetpg=compilers&lang=EN&prov=NL

If you’d like to set up a new count in your community, contact count co-ordinator Dick Cannings at dcannings@birdscanada.org.

And if you’re in the mood for a stroll, or snowshoe, in the woods on Boxing Day, consider the Red Cliff area where seven Flanagans might need help distinguishing a grouse from a ptarmigan.

Just kidding. I, the informed birder, now know they are one and the same.

Susan Flanagan would like everyone to say a special prayer this Christmas for

Pat Gehue, whose family wants him to come home. Susan can be reached at susan@48degrees.ca.

A child’s Christmas feedback

Ruth Wakeham writes: “Your family’s experience was in so many ways similar to ours. I, too, wanted knee boots so badly, probably in the same year that your sister did. We also still have photos of all the children of the family in cracker hats. There was nothing quite as good as new pyjamas. Your column took me right back. I could almost feel the cosiness of the flannelette as I was reading. I must ask Dad if he still has that white-handled electric knife. Thanks again. You made my Christmas.”

Andrew Tucker writes: “Your article in the Telegram, “A child’s Christmas,” brings back a lot of memories. We have the same Christmas picture in front of the couch, Christmas tree in the background. There were 10 of us — nine boys, one girl. Back in 1966, looking at them, you wonder who the goofball was, who the serious one was, how they would all turn out. We were fortunate enough to do the same picture 16 years later on the same couch, believe it or not. Nobody was ever allowed in the living room except at Christmas time.

“When friends look at and compare our two pictures, the 1966 one and the 1982 one, they often joke: same kids, same couch, same wallpaper, is that the same tree?

“Great fun. There are a lot of stories in pictures like that. Thank you for sharing it.”

Lynn Courish writes: “I hope I have stopped crying enough to send you a heartfelt thank you; my sister pointed out this article to me today as she actually recognized Gerry (just from the photo). What an amazing story you have done here, but hey, it is not a story is it? It was life and still is. I loved every minute of it. It was very well written but I have to be honest, for me, the memories just came flooding back at me. … Thank you so much. It feels like a Christmas gift to me.”

Heather LeShana writes: “Just read your article about Christmas. You could have been writing about my childhood. Thanks so much for the memories. Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with love, hope and new memories.”

Shirley Birmingham called to say that for her, the magic of Christmas was seeing the lit tree for the first time Christmas morning. She also still has a ginger container from A. Lilly and Company.

See COLUMN, page B2

Linda Ryan writes: “I dearly loved your story about your family’s Christmases on ‘Turn. It brought back so many wonderful memories of my own.  I, too, had an aunt who had moved to the States. Before their little family left Argentia, my military uncle gifted to my dad a handsome, hand-painted and rather significant, wooden Santa complete with sleigh and reindeer. Oh, how we treasured it.

“Whenever my dad would judiciously set it up in our front yard, Christmas had officially arrived in our neighbourhood. Soon after, winking lights and wreaths of all kinds would appear on the surrounding houses in a harmonious nod to the season. And, we would all wait with great anticipation for a soft sifting of snow to entirely set the scene. I can still see Santa and his reindeer in my mind’s eye. It was the first of its kind around our small town.  Some people would slow their cars to admire it and some would even stop and take pictures of their own children standing alongside Santa and waving.

“My sister and I, and certainly my parents, too, would always look forward to the boxes to arrive each year from Virginia. The boxes would always contain something that could not be found around here. Often, my aunt would send jumpers that she had expertly sewn for my sister and me.  And, we would wear them proudly with sweet white long-sleeved blouses to all the Christmas and New Year festivities. I remember one year, my aunt sent us the most beautiful cherry red corduroy jumpers.  We immediately put them on and literally wore them out. When I had finally outgrown mine, I wore my sister’s. I never wanted to give it up. Eventually, my mother, who was a pretty good sewer herself,

re-created the jumpers into miniskirts for my friend Judy and I — we wore them with our short white patent leather go-go boots in a Christmas concert singing and dancing to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Oh, my!

“I still have the only Barbie (American Girl, brunette in a striped swimsuit) I ever owned, given to me by my cousin — the year was 1965. Barbie had made the international trip along with her best friend, Midge. Who knew that some decades later, I would marry a man named Midge.

“The packages inside the ‘Christmas Box from Away’ were always beautifully individually wrapped which, for me, was the most magical thing about it all. I remember one year, customs had torn open the presents (leaving their inspection slips) and hadn’t bothered to rewrap even one.  I was devastated that someone would do that and not have the decency to at least tape up the torn papers. Imagine! At 7 or 8 years old, it was an atrocity.

“We didn’t have a lot back then. But what we had, we surely appreciated. And, we surely appreciated our American relatives thinking of us at Christmastime.

“My dad is gone now (he loved Christmas and I inherited that love for the season from him), as are his sister and my American uncle. But to this day, my cousin, sister and I still carry on the tradition across the miles. It helps us all to keep the spirit of Christmas present and the beautiful memories of Christmases past alive. …

Thank you, Susan, for reviving those in your column today.”

Things not likely.


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One of the elements in writing a book such as Arn? Narn is that I believed I remain responsibly informed about the current situation. As I continue to talk about Newfoundland, I’m asked some of the same questions repeatedly, primarily “Will the cod come back? And if so, what would happen?”

This is an article that appeared on CBC News on August 25, 2013. It very clearly addresses those questions and how many have coped with that tectonic change in the twenty-one years since the moratorium. As I’ve written before, Newfoundlanders are an incredibly resilient people. This speaks to that and the concern for the future.

Baker | There’s no sense being deluded about a cod comeback

Rethinking the future of the province’s cod fishery

Posted: Aug 25, 2013 5:19 AM NT

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2013 5:16 AM NT

Fisherman Harry Lee prepares cod fish caught on the first day of the 2012 food fishery. Fisherman Harry Lee prepares cod fish caught on the first day of the 2012 food fishery. (CBC)

For the benefit of those who haven’t been around the actual fishery a lot since the wild and crazy days of the early 1990s, let me clear up any confusion about the cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador: There will never be a cod fishery in this province again like we saw in the past, pre-1992.

To suggest otherwise is pure ignorance of fact; or else it’s a blatant attempt to romanticize and/or politicize notions of the good old days, geared to capitalize on “motherhood and apple pie” appeal of such a theory to spark the occasional vote.

Along the northeast coast of Newfoundland, cod is currently considered a nuisance; it is an impediment to far more valuable fisheries like shrimp and crab. These are not my words, they are the words of the people out there on the water. Ask them. They’ll tell you.

On the south and west coast of Newfoundland and up along the south coast of Labrador, groundfish like cod are much more important, especially in the small boat fisheries. But even there, it’s about far more than just cod. It’s about turbot and, perhaps even more so, halibut.

Halibut is worth $3.70 a pound on average. Even turbot is fetching over $2.18.

By comparison, cod is pulling in about .50 cents per pound. At prices like that, the only way to make cod profitable at an industrial fishing level is to catch a honking big pile of it. And look how that brilliant supply and demand marketing strategy worked out for us in the past.

Just for pure ha-ha’s, here’s a list of species in this province currently more valuable per pound than cod: halibut, turbot, monkfish, smelts, surf clams, scallop, whelk, cockles, sea urchins, tuna, lumpfish (roe), lobster, crab and shrimp.

Consider that the entire cod fishery in this province saw just over 18 million pounds landed on the wharf in 2012, and it was worth about $9.3 million in total landed value. That’s not a lot compared to the crab and shrimp fisheries, which together clocked in at more than $450 million.

Flim-flam or a way forward?

Some have suggested on the Broadcast in recent weeks that the best thing to do with cod is to focus the resource on the smaller boat fleets. They suggest the smaller boats could make a go of cod, because they wouldn’t need the much bigger quotas that the larger boat fleets would need to make it viable. The idea is that a limited resource can be better managed and maybe even — hold the phone — properly marketed.

Interesting idea or wishful flim-flam? Who knows.

But the truth is, even if the cod fishery came back province-wide right this minute to historical “hauling it up in baskets” levels, there wouldn’t be much we could do about it.

A great many vessels are currently not equipped for it. It could be a small supplement fishery for a few multispecies enterprises, but that’s about it.

Onshore, where would all that cod be processed? Outside of the Icewater operation at Arnold’s Cove, all the dedicated cod processing plants are gone.

When it comes to marketing, we are even further behind.

An experienced processor (who is as straight a shooter as ever there was in the processing business) told me flat out this past spring that nobody wanted to see any huge volumes of cod at all this year because there was nothing much they could do with it. And that was someone from a company that has tried everything with cod in recent years from salting to prime fillets to you name it.

Any markets that want cod are already getting stuffed to the gills by producers in places like Norway and Iceland. They have marketed and branded their product relentlessly, and they have established footholds in the marketplace – and oh, by the way, at the same time, they are seeing stock recoveries in many areas of the north-western Atlantic to the point that there is even talk some cod fisheries there could get Marine Stewardship Certification in the near future.

Am I saying we should abandon cod as a commercial species?

No. Not at all.

But by God, we have a lot of work and catching up to do in terms of harvesting, processing, branding and marketing (certainly not necessarily in that order) if we want to make it work for everyone involved.

If by some miracle we are given a second chance for a profitable and sensible cod fishery, this time it’s imperative we get it right.

Time passes…



One of my most favorite memories of my time in Newfoundland was that of meeting and befriending some of the people whom I met. Over these years, I have stayed in touch with some of them. Some I hear from regularly; others intermittently but happily.

One who stands out is Bren. I first met him in 2004 on my first trip up there. At that time, he was a spry and very active 84 years old, just about to learn how to navigate the internet. I wandered into his shop to look at some of the crafts his lawn sign was advertising. And a door into a new world was opened.

Bren came out of his workshop where he had been “turning” some bowls. Dressed in work pants and a flannel shirt, Carhartt-type jacket and hat, Bren greeted me warmly. He said I was the first this year. First what? I was a little confused. Tourist of course. How could I have not known?

It was late March and the tourist crowd had yet to invade these lovely shores. I could have been considered the vanguard, but I really wasn’t a tourist in the traditional sense. I was happily working on what was to become Arn? Narn. But I was interested in picking up some local crafts and art for gifts for loved ones back home. So, in that sense, i was a tourist.

Bren invited me into his home while he brought out his wares to show me. Remember, I was the first and he wasn’t yet ready for the annual onslaught of intrepid travelers. We talked and I bought. And exchanged e-mail addresses. As I was about to leave, Bren invited me to stay for a cup of tea. I was running late, for what I don’t remember, but I demurred and headed back to St. John ‘s.

Scan Some of the raw stock of Bren’s turnings.

Later that year, I received one of the best New Year’s notes ever – an e-mail from Bren, trying out the internet. His message reminded me of how much I enjoyed that trip.

I went back the next year, 2005, I bought some more, we talked some more, and we drank beer and tea this time. We were now friends.

Two years later, I returned with my wife Carla and introduced her to Bren. They hit it off immediately. Why should they have not? More beer, tea, laughs, and stories.

Over the years, we exchanged notes, thoughts, and news of each others’ lives. Bren’s back started to give him problems and he had to give up his craft. We are the poorer for that. But he remained as active as he could.

Bren is now, according to his most recent e-mail of two days ago, 91.5 years old. He has sold his home and moved into a facility where he can receive the care he needs and shares his days with others. He states “I am adapting to a new life of idleness & being amongst a lot of people.” They are richer for that as I am for knowing Bren.

I am happy to report I now have plans to return to Newfoundland next summer. I look forward to seeing Bren once again… good friends are hard to find.



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It was about ten years ago I conceived of the project that became my book Arn? Narn. Little did I know then of what I was embarking upon.

It was nine years ago I made my first and ultimately life-changing trip to Newfoundland to start photography on the book. Eight years ago was the second trip and six years ago was my third. Unhappily, I’ve not been back since.


Two years ago I received notice that a publisher was going to pick up the book.

I started this blog about twenty-one months ago. During that time, I was able to include you in my adventures, stories, observations, recipes(!), trials and tribulations bringing it to market, marketing the book, the PR hopes, public appearances, and generally just a random scream of consciousness.

It has been about three months since my last blog posting. Way too long a time in the blogosphere to go without a mention. Previously, I was happily posting twice a week. I wanted to share as much as I could with you about Newfoundland, its people, and almost anything I could think relating to it.

But, I find myself now in the same place I was ten years ago, starting a new project which I hope and pray will be every bit as rewarding as Arn? Narn. has been. I’ve started work on a new photo-documentary that will be based in the US. I can’t share much more than that at this time, but I will let all of you know through this blog, in the not-to-distant future, what it is all about. If you’re interested please stay subscribed. I will be starting a new blog for that book in real time as it progresses.

It is my goal to continue to post, albeit it intermittently, on this blog about anything new I learn about Newfoundland. One might ask the question “Why? We’re now aware. We know this already!” Because as I’ve described in the past, Newfoundland was a warning sign of which too few of us took notice. It will remain important and relevant to us all for what happened there and what it portends for the rest of the planet.

On a personal note, Newfoundland changed me, hopefully for the better. I will never forget the people and the friends I have there; the land and the sea; the music; and just the simple knowledge that the human spirit is nothing if not indomitable. Their flag represents so much of that.


So until then, “Dat’s it b’y!”

No one is safe. Well, actually all are but five and you know who you are.


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OK. There’s really no danger here. No threats, you can all go about your business. Unless your names are Charles Osgood, Matt Lauer, George Stephanopoulos, Jon Stewart (again!), or Joe Scarborough. Yes, that’s right. I’ve expanded my scope and my sights are set on all of you.

3672431944_d66a49917e George, think how good it would be for your career!

I have to believe with the quality of the subject of my book Arn? Narn., at least one of you will see the incredible merit in featuring this book on one of your shows. If not, then the only conclusion that can be drawn is one of collusion. And we know what the government thinks about that.

So, here’s your opportunity. For those of you who have been hiding in a Afghan cave somewhere or just haven’t been reading my book, (George, Charles, Jon, Joe, and Matt,) here’s your chance to get a first hand exclusive. We know you all want ratings and now you can scoop the other, but be quick about it. However, in all fairness, I would give each of you this opportunity.  But only one can be first. Hell, you all have had Joe Biden almost simultaneously on your show. What gives?

8407419409_b376faf9aa Really?

In the next day or so to prove to you I’m serious, I’ll be sending all of you a press kit and a signed copy of my book. Please find an honored place for it on your book shelves, but not before reading it and then calling me.

For the morning shows, it would be a good placement before the cooking segments and before Kathie and Hoda start drinking. For Joe, pretty much anytime, but maybe Mike Barnicle would be good. Sunday, I’m open. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on you.

The ball’s in your court now.

So what? Big deal.


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So the fish are gone in Newfoundland. So what? Big deal. Right? Wrong. So very wrong!

After more than twenty years, our species, the virus known as man, hasn’t learned a blasted thing. We are still fishing carelessly and without regard to the outcome and the future. Gotta have our sushi. Kitty has to have it’s food too. And what lunchbox would be complete without the prerequisite tuna fish sandwich, smell and all? Yet, what is the result of this? Here’s one example.

Resettlement is not a happy word in Newfoundland. In my travels, I visited several sites where once there had been outports (fishing villages) and now there was nothing; plowed under and grown over. People used to live and work there. Now, nothing to even mark their past. Get ready; it’ll happen in more places than we’d like. This is an article from the National Post illustrating what’s at stake.

‘Our little community’s dying’: Isolation prompts Newfoundland town to ask province for ‘resettlement’

Tristin Hopper | Feb 27, 2013 8:31 PM ET
Lockes' Stage on Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Adam Norman/Wikipedia Lockes’ Stage on Little Bay Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Little Bay Islands used to be just another prosperous settlement on the Newfoundland coast: Ample jobs at the local crab processing plant, streets jammed with children, dances at the Orange Hall — and all of it within surroundings befitting a tourism ad: Cosy wood houses facing onto an iceberg-dotted Atlantic.

Now, the crab plant is long gone, every shop in town is shuttered and the population has plummeted to 72 from a one-time high of almost 800. Aside from a toddler and a pair of young teenagers, virtually the only islanders left are a few dozen widows and seniors, many of whom don’t have the money to leave.

“We all know our little community’s dying,” said one Little Bay Islands resident who preferred to remain anonymous.

Now, you can’t even get a soft drink

“One time, I’d say there was probably seven or eight stores here; you could go and buy whatever you wanted. Now, you can’t even get a soft drink.”

It is why, earlier this month, the nearly 200-year-old community applied for “resettlement,” a 60-year-old program in which the province issues everyone a cheque to leave town before cutting the power, suspending the ferry service and leaving nature to take its course.

“Since the crab plant closed down there’s no work here whatsoever … and nobody wants to be on EI if they can get away with it,” said Dennis Budgell, a Little Bay Islands town councillor who raised the issue with the province’s Department of Municipal Affairs.

Under the resettlement deal available to Little Bay Islands, if 90% of the community votes in favour, every household will stand to receive between $80,000 and $100,000.

So what, you ask? Big deal. Yeah, it is a big deal.

You think this is over? It’s over when I say it’s over.


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Back in December, I started calling out Jonathan Liebowitz, oops sorry, (you can take the boy out of the neighborhood, but…) Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame to cover my photo-documentary book Arn? Narn. and the plight of Newfoundlanders. So far he has successfully avoided responding to my posts, tweets, (yes, I tweet now! Can the end times be far away?) and general internet nuisance. He is indeed made of hearty stock. Must be that peasant, New Jersey upbringing. Well, that’s OK. You see I’m from Jersey originally too. Game on!

It has beeen a matter of an immovable object meeting an irresistible force. Something’s got to give, Jon. So why prolong this? Why incur extra expense avoiding the inevitable? Yeah, I get it. Madeleine Albright is better looking than me. Well, that may be a stretch. Michelle Obama IS better looking and better known than me, but don’t blame me because I married a civilian. (Hey, I was young and in love!)

But, and this is a big one, neither knows much about Newfoundland and why it’s important in our planet’s future. It’s fish are gone and before too long, so will the rest of the world’s wild fish stock. You like sushi? Not that much longer. Gefilte fish? I know you do…fuggedaboutit. It won’t work with farmed catfish. Yeah, it’s THAT serious. So what are you waiting for?

Here’s review that speaks about the book’s importance.

Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman

ANPRCD3 Photo by Bruce Meisterman

First sentence: “When you’re twenty years ahead of the curve, it really doesn’t matter that you’re right.”

Publisher’s Summary:  “Arn? Narn. is photographer Bruce Meisterman s first book. Arn? Narn. chronicles Canada s Newfoundland Island fishing culture on the road to its unfortunate demise. The black and white photography and interviews conducted by Meisterman showcase a community earmarked by minimalist living and deep community bonds, but broken by the cod’s disappearance.”

Bruce Meisterman is a photographer and the beauty of this book is in the photography. The text is sparse. Each chapter starts with a minimal yet informative narrative on topic and then the often full page photographs tell the rest of the story. Meisterman tells the story of the end of cod fishing in Newfoundland, the moratorium put on the industry in 1992 and the effect that has had on the fishing industry and the people. He explains that fishing is not just an industry to Newfoundlanders but a way of life born into these island people, a cultural heritage that defines their history, art, music, dance and craft. He paints a grim picture that is mostly blamed on over-fishing, government mismanagement, and greed. But as anyone knows who has visited Newfoundland (I haven’t) or knows a “Newfie” (I’ve known several) they can tell you that Newfoundlanders are not a downhearted people. They are down-to-earth people with no pretensions, full of the joy of life with a sense of humour and love of the folk arts born into them. Meisterman also tries to convey this in his book and succeeds to a point.

The choice of black and white photography both aids and hinders the author’s objectives. The desolate, stark countryside is powerfully represented in this medium, especially the winter scenes with the snow and ice along with the sandy shores of the lonely beaches and yet the beauty of the land is missing when we cannot see the green of the foliage and colours of wildflowers growing close to the ground on the rock. The death of the fishing industry is brought home with the b/w photos of clapboard homes, churches and graveyards and yet the life essence of the people is missing when we cannot see the bright colours used to paint houses, lighthouses, murals and folk art signs. Also the revelry of a kitchen party is missing when shown in black and white and yet the contrast between the joy of the people and the poverty of the economy is marked in this medium. An enchanting book with a sad tale told with optimism, but one that does not end on a sad note.

“Even now, Newfoundland is moving into its new reality…The Newfoundland spirit is anything if not indomitable.  A people who came to live at terms with the sea will find their way here as well.”

Review by: Nicola Mansfield

C’mon, Jon. You know you want to do this. I can be on the next plane. Just call.

Everybody’s talkin’…



Well, not everybody but quite a few. I’d like to share a review from The Memphis Flyer of my book Arn? Narn. In the interest of full disclosure, it pretty much lets you know where I do my day job…(what, you think all authors drive Ferrari’s and sip Mojitos by the pool while channeling Norman Mailer? If only.) However, it is a good review and I think its author got it right. Hope you enjoy it. Certainly, if you’ve any thoughts or comments, I’d love to hear them.

Go Fish?by Leonard Gill


Three trips to Newfoundland; 5,000 or so photographs: That’s what it’s taken for Memphian Bruce Meisterman to produce Arn? Narn. (Gosslee), his book of striking black-and-white photos of Newfoundland.

Five hundred years: That’s how long Newfoundlanders have been fishing for cod. In recent decades, though, the cod have largely disappeared from Newfoundland’s waters, and a way of life on this island off the coast of Canada is threatened with extinction. Is overfishing to blame? Trawling? Poaching? Climate change? And is this what’s in store for fishstocks globally? Hard to say for sure what’s to blame or what to predict. But no question about the words one often hears from one Newfoundland fisherman, as he heads out to sea, to a fisherman headed back in: “Arn?” (“Fish?”) “Narn.” (“No fish.”).

Meisterman — advertising director for MBQ: Inside Memphis Business, a sister publication of the Flyer — has had his share of local photography exhibits. (See his upcoming show at Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, opening reception on December 14th.) And he’s doing a good job introducing Memphians to Newfoundland popular culture. (On Wednesday of this week, he joined Bruce Newman for a program of Newfoundland folk music on radio station WEVL.)

But the publication of Arn? Narn. is drawing the most attention, as it did recently at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, where interest in Meisterman’s work (and its warnings) was encouraging. So too the positive coverage of Meisterman’s book generally and particularly in a British magazine, which plans to make Arn? Narn. its book of the month in November.

Memphians have a chance to meet Meisterman when he discusses and signs copies of Arn? Narn. at the Booksellers at Laurelwood on Thursday. Doubtful, though, that Meisterman will be doing a book-store signing in Newfoundland. “Earlier this year, the last independent book store on Newfoundland closed,” Meisterman said. “Doesn’t mean I won’t be going up there for the book, though. I’ve made friends with many musicians. They’d love to host a signing.”

And at this point, Amazon is sold out until they get a new shipment. But you can still get them directly from the publisher at fjordsreview.com .

Lest you think…


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In 1992, the Canadian government shut down the fishing industry in Newfoundland for 10 years in hopes that the fish would come back. When they revisited it in 2002, they found the fish stocks were in worse shape than at the outset of the moratorium. It is now in place permanently. And apparently, outside of Canada, no one took notice of this catastrophe. For the rest of the world, it looked pretty much like an example of “It couldn’t happen here.” Yeah, right.

If we didn’t know this before, we now know better than that. Here is an article from the National Post illustrating that the Newfoundland disaster was not an isolated incident. This will happen across our planet with increasing frequency, yet there doesn’t seem to be anyone terribly concerned with it.

Aquaculture while an amazing achievement is not the answer. Our naturally reproducing fish are in grave danger of disappearing and still we harvest them irresponsibly. There are a few countries starting to act with an eye to the future, but until the rest of those countries contributing to this dilemma own up to their own hand in this, nothing will change except for the greater decrease of this natural resource.

Write letters. Make phone calls. Protest even. It is our “Today” and our children’s “Tomorrows.”

Twenty years later, New England fishery collapse mirrors Newfoundland disaster

Kelly McParland | Jan 31, 2013 11:36 AM ET


Twenty years after Ottawa imposed a moratorium on Newfoundland’s cod fishery, northeastern U.S. states are looking at similar cuts as fishery officials argue for steep new limits in an effort to stave off disaster.

“The game is over” reported the Boston Business Journal, noting that one official called it “a day of reckoning.”

The New England Fishery Management Council voted Wednesday night to cut the catch limit on Gulf of Maine cod by 77 percent – although most members reportedly agreed the move was tantamount to shutting down direct fishing for cod, which has sustained New England’s inshore fishing industry for centuries.

The Georges Bank cod catch is to be cut by 66 percent.

The Gloucester Times reports the cuts are so severe, at least one council member argued for a complete shutdown of the cod fishery, altogether. ““I don’t see myself leaving the dock next year, I’m not sure we’re going fishing (anymore),” said Councilor Joe Orlando of Gloucester, according to the Times. Another Gloucester fisherman, Paul Vitale, said the “docks and the stores” will be quiet.

The New York Times report was similarly grim:

“We are headed, slowly, seeming inexorably, to oblivion,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a member of the council, as he explained his support for the catch limits. “I do not deny the costs that are going to be paid by fishermen, families, communities. They are real. They will hurt.”

The problem, he said, is not government inflexibility, as fishermen have suggested, but the lack of fish. “It’s midnight and getting darker when it comes to how many cod there are,” he said. “There isn’t enough cod for people to make a decent living.”

Fishermen were shocked by the decision, seeing it as the end of an industry that sustained their communities for centuries.

“Right now what we’ve got is a plan that guarantees the fishermen’s extinction,” one told the Times.

“I’m leaving here in a coffin,” said another.

The reaction mirrored the trauma that hit Canada’s east coast 20 years ago, when federal authorities declared a moratorium on cod, warning that years of overfishing had reduced stocks by up to 97%. Despite hopes that stocks might revive if left alone,  a decade later the federal fisheries minister announced the outright closure of the fishery in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.

In New England, optimism is in short supply.

“We are headed down the wrong course here, of exterminating the inshore fleet, for no good reason,” David Goethel, a New Hampshire fisherman and council member, told the Associated Press.

“I’m bankrupt. That’s it,” said 40-year-old Gloucester fishermen Paul Vitale, a father of three. “I’m all done. The boat’s going up for sale.”

National Post

Thoughts on lessons maybe learned.



Arn? Narn. has been out now for nearly four months. It’s been a wonderful period with much to be thankful for. Sales have been good, reviews have been even better, the Newfoundlanders who have seen it seem to like it. It’s all good. I just wanted to take some space on this post to share a few random thoughts in no particular order about what I experienced and expected while doing it.

Red's Lounge 2 Alas, no longer – Red’s Lounge (unpublished from Arn? Narn.)

What we want will never be on our time table. It’ll happen when it happens. Nine years from conception to market would not have been my idea of a good time table. But, it did happen. There are always too many things out of my control.

Gratification can come from the most unexpected place or person and in a most surprising fashion. Always be open to new ideas and experiences.

No matter how good the work is, it can always be better. No matter how bad you think it might be, it is always much better than that. At some point, you will have to let go and launch it.

Do not ever lose sight of your goal. Others may not “get it”. That’s OK. Actually that’s fine. There’s a real satisfaction in proving otherwise.

Be single-minded in your determination to make it happen. Discouragement will happen, probably more than you would like. But be on the lookout for signs. Throughout the process there were several “bites” on the book only to have them back off at some point. I learned from those that the book did indeed have merit. All I needed was fortitude.

Your book is not perfect no matter how hard you worked on it. Your publisher/editor will have ideas that can improve it. Really.

Take immense satisfaction that you will have accomplished what only a small fraction of authors set out to do.

Share freely and openly what you’ve learned with other aspiring authors. Why not?

Be humble, gracious, and thankful.

Start work on your next book as soon as you can.

Write a blog as a journal of your journey. It is a great reference for you and others. It helps keep alive and move the project along until eventual publication. You can build some audience anticipation with it as well.

Keep researching your subject even after the book is done. You will be asked questions that you may not have thought of while writing the book. Stay current. See above photo of Red’s Lounge. I learned only two weeks ago it is no longer open. It was the only bar on the island of Ramea.

Realize that your creativity cannot be turned off or on at will. In those times where nothing seems to come easy, don’t despair. It’s only temporary. And when it does come back and it will, what are a few lost hours of sleep compared to what you’re doing and accomplishing?

And one last note: shortly after my book came out, an acquaintance greeted me with “Well, here’s the author!?” I replied, “Please. An author?” They asked “Are you happy with it?” I, wanting it to have been perfect and seeing faults that no one else could, responded, “No. I wish I could have done it better.” Their reply, “Then you really are an author!” I hate know-it-alls!

Enough is enough.


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Twenty-one years ago, when the Canadian government enacted a moratorium to cease cod fishing, an entire industry and way of life was wiped out. 40,000 jobs gone, just like that. In that first ten year period of the moratorium which is still in effect eleven years later after the original cutoff date, 20% of the population left the island never to return.

17-1737-6JI3D00Z A way of life no more.

The catches had been getting smaller and then were legislated into nothingness. There were several theories as to why this decline had happened: natural predation by other species, pollution, climate change, and overfishing. It’s pretty clear now what has happened, with overfishing if you will, claiming the title of winner. Government mismanagement and greed literally took the livelihood of out of the Newfoundlander‘s hands. But it is now apparent that climate change has a contributing hand in this. A paper published a couple of months ago stated that fish all over the world are becoming smaller because of the warmer waters. This precludes them from reaching full maturity and breeding normally. That is now leading to a further decline in viable fish which will lead to a larger cascading effect on the rest of the global fish population, Newfoundland included. There’s a one-two punch that would be hard for anyone from which to recover.

Now, whatever little remains of Newfoundland’s fishing stocks is under further assault. And assault is the operable word. In 2007, the southern coast of Newfoundland was seeing infestations of a new species, heretofore unknown of in that province, called the green crab. It has since grown more serious. The introduction of them is not necessarily a problem introduced by man, but it is likely to be an element of it. Even unknowingly, we are adept at mucking things up.

The green crab is a voracious predator eating anything and everything, size be damned. Lobsters? Tasty. Shrimp? Oh, yeah. Cod? What do you think? And currently there is no known remedy for them. They affect the ecological biodiversity wherever they settle. Whatever small chance there might have been for a return of the cod is threatened by this non-native species. What is next? A land to live on which is as hard as its rocks once again is getting hammered. And it appears to be a helpless situation.

One has to believe there are Newfoundlanders saying to themselves and each other, “Enough is enough.” Yes. Yes, indeed.

Arn? Narn. nation.


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If anyone ever wants to move to another country and apply for citizenship of said country, there are myriad hoops to jump through, not to mention the legal fees involved. I know as I’ve aimlessly looked into it. Over the past few years, as Arn? Narn. became less of an idea, dream, and project and more of the book it became, I’ve wanted to share what Newfoundland in my eyes is all about. The book and by extension this blog is my take on it.

As the book has now been out just over three months and to unanimously good-to-great reviews, I’ve been imploring (well, maybe begging even) my readers to contact Jon Stewart of The Daily Show so I can share Arn? Narn. with a larger audience.

2178706189_8ed438e2fb Yeah, this guy.

You are, in effect, the Arn? Narn. nation. And what better way to express that than wearing the colors of our beloved nation? Well, with an Arn? Narn. t-shirt! You’re probably asking yourself right now, “Gee, how do I get one of those rare, limited edition, not available in any store or on TV commercials, fine, cotton, apparel-quality t-shirts?”

Simple, even though it does smack a little bit of bribery. All you have to do is send Jon Stewart at The Daily Show a note telling him how much he needs to have this book and its humble (!) author (me) on his show. There are three reviews currently on Amazon under the book’s title. If you would copy and paste any one of them and send to: guestpitch@thedailyshow.com with a note suggesting, maybe even imploring, him to do this and copy me at bmeisterman@comcast.net, then you can win a t-shirt complete with the really cool Arn? Narn. logo. As I mentioned early, this really is a limited edition, so the first three who do this, win. Yeah, it’s that easy. And you’ll be a t-shirt-wearing member of Arn? Narn. Nation.

Basic CMYK The really cool Arn? Narn. logo.

If, no, rather when, Jon capitulates, and it’s clear which one was the deciding suggesting e-mail, then you’ll also win a signed copy of Arn? Narn. Yup, it’s that easy. You too will now be a member of Arn? Narn. nation. And you won’t even need a passport.

This is serious.


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The holidays, formerly at our throats, are now behind us. My trip to NYC  last week went well, but still no invitation from Jon Stewart of The Daily Show to appear on behalf of Arn? Narn. So, now it’s time to resume my effort to get exposure for my book. Invoking an old Newfoundland tradition, I could show up at the studio as a Mummer in an attempt to crash the show. Unlike most homes in Newfoundland, I am sure they have an adept security staff that would hinder any progress I might make in speaking with Jon. What a paranoid nation we’ve become! I’m harmless. Mostly. OK. Totally.

4198317552_a799b422e1 Newfoundland Mummers – sort of harmless.

But like an ardent Weight Watchers member, Stewart is avoiding me like an-all-you-can-eat buffet. Hey, Jon. I can assure you I’ve no poly-triglycerides, no peanuts (if you’re allergic and you may very well be), and no trans fats. I told you I was harmless, right? So why resist?

So, loyal readers, I ask you again, and it won’t be the last time, help me get the word out to Mr. Stewart. Share with him this link to the video for the book (copy and paste to your browser): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpFIb1s-sgw&list=HL1343692229&feature=mh_lolz . The e-mail address is: guestpitch@thedailyshow.com .

Dear Jon,

Take a look at this book. It’s really cool and I’d love to hear what this guy is all about.

Newfoundlanders and their connection to the sea December 3, 2012

Bruce Meisterman is a photographer and the beauty of this book is in the photography. The text is sparse. Each chapter starts with a minimal yet informative narrative on topic and then the often full page photographs tell the rest of the story. Meisterman tells the story of the end of cod fishing in Newfoundland, the moratorium put on the industry in 1996 and the effect that has had on the fishing industry and the people. He explains that fishing is not just an industry to Newfoundlanders but a way of life born into these island people, a cultural heritage that defines their history, art, music, dance and craft. He paints a grim picture that is mostly blamed on over-fishing, government mismanagement, and greed. But as anyone knows who has visited Newfoundland (I haven’t) or knows a “Newfie” (I’ve known several) they can tell you that Newfoundlanders are not a downhearted people. They are down-to-earth people with no pretensions, full of the joy of life with a sense of humour and love of the folk arts born into them. Meisterman also tries to convey this in his book and succeeds to a point.The choice of black and white photography both aids and hinders the author’s objectives. The desolate, stark countryside is powerfully represented in this medium, especially the winter scenes with the snow and ice along with the sandy shores of the lonely beaches and yet the beauty of the land is missing when we cannot see the green of the foliage and colours of wildflowers growing close to the ground on the rock. The death of the fishing industry is brought home with the b/w photos of clapboard homes, churches and graveyards and yet the life essence of the people is missing when we cannot see the bright colours used to paint houses, lighthouses, murals and folk art signs. Also the revelry of a kitchen party is missing when shown in black and white and yet the contrast between the joy of the people and the poverty of the economy is marked in this medium. An enchanting book with a sad tale told with optimism, but one that does not end on a sad note.”Even now, Newfoundland is moving into its new reality…The Newfoundland spirit is anything if not indomitable. A people who came to live at terms with the sea will find their way here as well.”

OK, Jon, I’m just down the street…



It’s been said that timing is everything. That said, I can save you, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, some money because I’ll be in NYC on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Put me on the show, dammit! You won’t have to pay for airfare or lodgings even. I promise to be entertaining. Really. I’ll bring a book and sign it for you and won’t even charge you for it! I’ll tell you all you never thought you needed to know about Newfoundland and the crisis that will be upon us before your children are grown. Yeah, it’s that important.

Why do you resist? Look, I know you’re locked into your contract until the middle of 2015. I can wait. I’ve waited longer than that for some other things that I won’t get into on this post. (If you’re interested, we can talk about it while I’m in the Green Room.) But, really. Why wait? The subject is of global importance and you can help bring it to the attention of so many. Why, you could even consider it a public service! True, it’s not tax deductible but before long nothing will be anyway.

I’m calling on all my friends, both of them, to petition you to do this. Soon, you won’t be able to go anywhere without hearing about my photo-documentary book, Arn? Narn. You’ll wonder why you waited so long. Hell, I’m wondering why you’re waiting so long.

Trailer21 This is the book, Jon. You have a copy already!

So to all my loyal readers out there, send Jon e-mails, Tweets, Facebook ‘em, flowers, fruitcakes (You know, the ones left over from Christmas – no skip that, he’s Jewish), whatever. Let’s get him moving on this.

To reach him, you might try this e-mail address – guestpitch@thedailyshow. com . It couldn’t hurt.

Game on…


, ,

Now that the holidays are mercifully behind us, we can get back to our everyday routines no matter how mundane they may be. If you’re lucky, and I believe I am, mundane is not a word you usually use to describe your days. With that in mind, my effort to get exposure for Arn? Narn. is gearing up again.

Simply put, I need your help in getting Jon Stewart of The Daily Show to talk about Arn? Narn. on his show. If you would participate in this grass-roots effort, then you can help spread the word about what is happening to all the wild, edible fish in our world. I’ve posted below an e-mail that if you would copy, paste and send to Jon, then maybe we can get his attention. I’ve already sent him a press kit, a copy of the book, and have enlisted your help to do this. Let’s not stop now. Here’s the message and here’s where to send it to:  guestpitch@thedailyshow.com .

Thanks for your help.

Hi Jon,

Just wanted to drop you a line saying how much I love your show. I’ve recently read a photo-documentary book that I think you’d be interested in. It’s called Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman. It’s topical and important. I thought I’d also include a review of the book. Hope you enjoy it.

Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman

“’Arn? Narn.” It is said to be
the shortest conversation
in Newfoundland.’”
While reading this book and looking through the photos, I had to wonder whether the author lived in Newfoundland, or had extreme interest and visited in order to document his story.
Arn? Narn is a photography novel filled with black and white photographs taken in Newfoundland. The supporting text tells the story of the struggling culture. They thrived off of fishing for cod. Without an abundance of cod, now, they are trying to make end meet however they can. It also expresses the culture of the people. Through the photos of citizens you get a hint as to what the people are like that live there.
While there is text surrounding the pictures telling the story of the suffering culture in Newfoundland, I feel like the photos are telling the real story. You can feel great emotion just looking at the photos. More than you would feel with just text alone. That is the beauty of these types of book. They incorporate two different ways of telling a story to make you truly understand their meaning. Without the text, the pictures would have no place. You wouldn’t know what you were looking at. Without the pictures, the story would be emotionless.
This book is a beautiful representation of how these types of book are supposed to be laid out — Beautifully written text to accompany the truly emotion-filled photos of the struggles in Newfoundland.
Not knowing much about Newfoundland, I found this book informational and well as a pleasing to the eyes. I feel like a have knowledge of a new culture that I never knew about before.
Arn? Narn is a beautiful story told through words and breathtaking photography.

5/5 stars for me – Courtney Bauman

No shortage of…


A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d be writing about some declining resources around us. Certain things will be harder to obtain and will now always be in short supply. But at this point I would rather focus on some other resources beyond the obvious.

As we wend our way through the obstacle course known as the holidays, it’s all too common to reflect back on the year just past. Were there heartbreaks? Of course. Were there joys? Oh, yes. And everything in between. Like in any other year past, there was no shortage of any of those in 2012. That is what some would call the texture of our lives. That’s accurate enough, but I think minimizes their import. The resources I’m thinking about right now come from what is I believe an inexhaustible source: the human spirit. With that in mind, here, in no particular order of importance, is what I hope for all of you – an unlimited amount of:

Laughter – may you laugh long and heartily every day; sunny days/rainy days – both are good for the soul; smiles – they cost nothing but are so powerful; hugs – for others and most importantly, you; kindness – no explanation needed other than don’t forget it; kisses – all types – give freely!; a warm hand on someone’s shoulder when they need it; understanding – it needn’t cost as much as we seem to “charge” for it; gentleness – this is where real strength resides; serenity; peace – both internally and externally; truth; and so on and so on.

Lest you think I left out the most important wish for you, no, I haven’t. I saved it ’til last; LOVE. From this, all the others will come. Be open, be tender, be gentle. Have a wonderful new year!


A Newfoundland Christmas post-Christmas poem



I Just received this this morning from a friend of mine in Newfoundland. Sometime ago, I wrote about Mummering at Christmas time in Newfoundland. This little poem does a good job in describing it. Hope you enjoy it.

A Newfoundland Christmas by James Rogin

‘Twas a night after Christmas in old Newfoundland.
The fire in the place was blazing just grand.
I sat on the chesterfield holding the phone,
While the wife’s in the kitchen making a scone.
When all of a sudden there was a loud rap,
And someone was banging tap a tap, tap.

I went to the door and who should appear,
But a “Mummer” or two looking for beer.
They wore old pillow cases,
That well covered their faces,
And I knew our houses were part of their quests.
So I welcomed them in, these old special guests.

They spoke in strange voices,
Saying I had to make choices,
As to who was who in that strange odd pair,
And so I played a part in this yule time affair.
I quickly named a name that wasn’t quite right.
So they drak my drink and went off into the night.

I never found who my callers were that year.
But I’m glad they came with all that good cheer.
And I hope this tradition will never come to an end,
For this is good fun to have with a friend.
And I’ll remember this Christmas wherever I go,
For I love Newfoundland, this will always be so.