It has been 15 years since excessive overfishing by Newfoundland destroyed the North Atlantic cod populations. Back then, the Newfoundland fishermen and the Canadian politicians swore they knew what they were doing and insisted the cod numbers were healthy right up until the day the entire fishery collapsed.
They all acted shocked when the cod fishery died although conservationists had been warning them for years that collapse was inevitable.
The cod are not expected to recover.
Currently, the same "experts" are insisting that the seals populations are healthy even as they slaughter over 325,000 each year in what is the largest mass slaughter of any marine mammal population anywhere in the world.
Now, the latest fiasco is the mismanagement and greed of the crab fishery that has resulted in another crash and this financial blow coupled with the international boycott of all Canadian seafood products has just hit Newfoundland with the force of an economic sledge hammer.
This week about 700 seafood processing workers were laid off after Sea Treat Ltd. shut down plants in three rural Newfoundland communities and one in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
This is the latest is a recent string of plant closings.
"We could be heading towards a crisis," Newfoundland Prime Minister Danny Williams said. "A lot of these things that are happening here are things that are completely out of our control."
It appears Danny Williams has just realized what many environmentalists have known for years - that Newfoundland is heading once again into another crisis.
The union representing nearly 20,000 Newfoundlanders are worried. Plummeting shellfish and crab prices have been the major force behind the sagging state of the fisheries this season, said Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union.
The Sea Treat closings are part of a wider malaise plaguing the fisheries, said George Rose, professor and chairman of fisheries conservation with Memorial University's Marine Institute.
The Newfoundlanders as usual are blaming everyone but themselves. They blame the rising value of the Canadian dollar, competition for crab from the United States and China, higher fuel prices, and of course, they blame the seals, the whales, the seabirds, and the animal rights and conservation organizations.
"The seafood boycott is not helping," said one Newfoundland fisherman. "Our products are being given a bad name because of these stinking seal lovers," he complained.
The boycott is having an effect. Fishery Products International Ltd., considered the vanguard of the fishing business in Newfoundland and Labrador and crucial to the economic livelihood of the province's south coast, lost $10.5-million last year. Created by the federal and provincial governments from the bankrupt shells of previously collapsed firms, FPI has temporarily closed its Marystown operation, putting 650 employees out of work for the first five months of this year. The company also plans to permanently close its Fortune plant, eliminating 345 jobs, in July. Former employees in Harbour Breton haven't worked for more than two years, except for top-up projects to extend their employment insurance claims.
If Newfoundland is to recover they must learn to live in harmony with all the species that humans are independent with. A healthy population of seals is essential for a healthy fish population. That is an ecological fact.
Newfoundland is in economic dire straits because of gross incompetence, mismanagement, and greed in their fishing industries over the last century. Scape-goating the seals instead of curbing their greed has brought them to where they are today.
"Perhaps it is time that Newfoundlanders look at taking a more ecologically-healthy approach to living off the ocean." Said Captain Paul Watson. "Wiping out seals and seabirds, whales, and fish is not the smartest thing to do if you wish to survive and live by the sea."
The Canadian seafood boycott is growing and it will continue to grow until Canada abolishes the mass cruel slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups every spring.
The Canadian government refuses to acknowledge that the international Boycott of Canadian Seafood products is having an effect despite the fact that they are funding public relations campaigns to counter the impact of the boycott.
The Canadian government has for years unfortunately been unable to see the cause and effect of their economic woes until it is too late. Perhaps they will acknowledge the boycott when the final fish processing worker is laid off and sent home.
More likely, however, they will simply blame us stinking seal lovers.