Sunday, May 06, 2007


Averill Baker: Enslavement



Averill Baker
The Beacon

Fishery Products International is selling its assets in this province – its assets include quotas of fish around Newfoundland and Labrador given each year by Ottawa.

Corporations from Norway, Iceland, Europe and Asia every year barter quotas of fish not yet caught in the waters around our province using quotas allocated by NAFO.

This is the shocking truth about Ottawa’s management of our fish in our ocean on our continental shelf around our province.

Under Ottawa’s management, the only people in the world who have no claim to the fish around our province are ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are not allowed to catch a fish to eat or don’t have the money to invest in the stock market.

But, as far as FPI is concerned, FPI has no business owning quotas of fish anyway. It’s just poor business practice. They trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol FPL and every time a potential investor reads their annual report, they shudder when they see quotas listed as an asset.

Every year, by law, FPI has to explain they receive quotas at the pleasure of the minister of fisheries and oceans and those quotas can change or be cancelled and adversely impact FPI’s economic position. What investor wants to be at the mercy of the minister of fisheries and oceans?

FPI quotas are also at the mercy of the provincial government. I recall in law school studying the Fishery Products International Limited Act, which came about from a corporate amalgamation on or about 1985. I recall reading in the act that FPI quotas were specifically spelled out as something that could not be traded or sold without the approval of the lieutenant-governor in council — the provincial Cabinet.

The shocking truth is each year the federal minister of fisheries and oceans decides if Canadian quotas of our fish will be given to corporations who trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Ottawa is under no legal obligation to award these quotas each year.

But, these quotas awarded by the minister of fisheries and Oceans are only a part of the total fish quotas given each year around our coast. If that sounds confusing, read on.

You see, Canada is only one of 17 fishing nations who share quotas for shrimp, cod, turbot, and other fish right up to the high-water mark around our coast.

That is the most outrageous of the shocking truths about our province — no other people on the planet Earth are treated so unfairly as to be forbidden by their own government to catch a fish while foreigners have that privilege.

This province is the only place on Earth that has foreign fishing nations deciding our fishing quotas inside 200 miles (322 kilometres), and, what is even more embarrassing, right up to the high water mark.

We accept it as a way of life living in Canada — it’s just the way things are and there is nothing we can do about it.

It’s like being in prison when you know you are innocent. The system has failed you and there is nothing you can do about it.

Scientists from 17 foreign nations determine the quotas for eight of the major fish stocks right up to our high-water mark — our main fish species like cod, turbot, shrimp and all flat fish. And it’s been that way for years.

Ottawa then determines who can catch the fish in the quota allocated to Canada by the 17 foreign nations and their scientific council of fish biologists. It’s Ottawa’s way of managing our fish for the benefit of the people of the world. Their most recent trading action is to relax the labelling and shipping regulations for unprocessed Canadian caught fish to be shipped to China for processing.

We are the only people in the world under this type of legal subjugation — enslavement if you will.

In the coming months, FPI assets in this province will be sold, and under the act, the provincial cabinet will have to approve each new owner of each asset, including who gets the quotas that are given each new year at the discretion of the federal minister.

And each Newfoundlander and Labradorian — who, according to the export statistics, each contributes three times more to the Canadian economy than any other people in any other province in Canada — will be enslaved by continued foreign and corporate ownership and control of the very fish that swim around our coast.

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