Making the Connections

I own a small woodlot in Cumberland County; it's a small island of forest in a sea of clearcuts. Most of the clearcut land around me is owned by the Irving forestry interests or the Crown, and other parts are owned by non-resident and dis-interested folk who probably have never visited their woodlot more than once in their lives.

There are two big pressures on the forests in my neighbourhood: one is government policy, and the other is energy prices.

This blog explores the intersection of those two pressures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Looting our Crown Lands

Minister Tobin and the press
Have we learned nothing from the collapse of the northern cod stocks?

Everyone knows that the cod fishery of Canada's East Coast collapsed in the early 1990's, and while many are prepared to blame this on the warming of the oceans I think that they know in their hearts that the stock was overfished. In the 1990's there were several technological advances that allowed nations to increase their catches of cod. The use of the GPS system allowed trawlers to know exactly where they were on the Grand Banks, the use of fish-finding sonar allowed them to find the fish easily and locate them in the water column, and the development of factory-freezer-trawlers allowed a ship to stay on the fishing grounds for a month or more, processing the cod just as soon as it could be hauled in. And they just took everything. The honking great nets scooped up every living thing in its way, and whatever fish they did not need or weren't allowed to take were simply thrown back overboard, dead or dying.

The northern cod stocks were fished by many nations but the most determined seemed to be the Spanish and Portuguese fleets. They had been fishing the Grand Banks for 400 years and they were not prepared to let anyone or any international body tell them to stay away, and if the cod stocks were in decline they were darn sure that they were going to get their share before the fish were gone.