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Plague Industry

While I do not leave trash in the woods and have condemned those who have littered our forests with everything from Vienna sausage cans to old fridges and stoves, I’ve never looked at myself as an environmentalist; certainly not among those extremists who spend much of their lives protesting every development known to man. If it were up to them, we’d still be living in caves.

As I’ve said before, I tend to look at each case/situation/development individually.

Actions by the current Liberal government, however, would cause some of the most avid pro-developers to scratch their heads and wonder when – or if – it will ever end.

In particular here, I’m referring to the plague industry known as open pen salmon aquaculture.

Editor Gord Follett welcomes your feedback on this and all articles you read in The Sportsman. Reach him at gfollett@newfoundlandsportsman.com

Way back when I was in the local sports writing business, it was a given that the politician given the responsibility for “sport and recreation” was at the bottom of the Cabinet totem pole. In recent years, however, that dubious distinction has switched to ministers of the environment who, for the most part, are little more than figureheads.

Isn’t an environment minister – by its very title – supposed to protect our environment?

I cannot recall a single one having done so in decades with respect to open pen aquaculture. In fact, they’ve actually approved destruction time and time again, and have even gone against court orders telling them to stop.

Even if they are personally against such destruction, they and their staff are obviously under strict gag orders.

Does anybody out there actually believe that educated and trained environmental staff members and advisors are okay with all the destruction their department is approving?

Of course they aren’t. But what are they to do – protest and go public at the risk of losing their jobs, benefits and pensions?

Much higher on the Cabinet totem pole, Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne appears to have elbowed our latest environment minister to the sidelines yet again several weeks ago when he sent an invitation to any and all aquaculture companies on Canada’s west coast, who are being kicked out of their own province, to set up shop here and add to the destruction already taking place.

Not only that, we’ll pay them. But – and here’s the big kicker – we do ask for a few jobs for the locals in return.

And then, despite all hell breaking loose after the very recent major disaster on our south coast with the slow, stinking deaths of 2.6 million salmon, he’s still trying to defend the industry!

What does this man take us for? Surely there’s got to be something else to this that we aren’t being told.

Suspending licences from a disaster area means nothing. Absolutely nothing. This company will be back up and running before we know it. What we are seeing now with this public rap on the knuckles is politics in its purest form. And we all know what that is.

Is there anything of ours this government would not sacrifice for a few years of little-more-than minimum wage employment?

So why stop here? Let’s go ahead with the plan to burn the world’s garbage in Lewisporte; stink the place out, cause illness among residents and destroy the environment. As long as there are a few jobs created, we’re okay with that.

And let’s not forget our friends in Quebec; Montreal in particular, where they dump eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, along with 100 other municipalities which regularly discharge wastewater into Quebec waterways without treatment or filtration.

Why don’t we check to see if they’d be interested in building a pipeline – nothing too large or fancy, mind you; 22-24” round should do it – all the way to Newfoundland, where its contents could slither into the beautiful Atlantic Ocean that surrounds us – complete with all its creatures?

Don’t laugh. There could be couple hundred jobs for us during the brief construction phase, then perhaps as many as a dozen full-time positions once La Belle province’s poop pipe is in place here.

Rather than wake them, I’ll hold off on our infamous federal politicians and bureaucrats responsible for the fishery in this province, and how they continue to ignore it. Nor will I waste space in this issue of our magazine offering an observation on comments from aquaculture industry officials, other than to say they are about as outrageous as one could possibly imagine.

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