Letter to the editor -
One of my little grandson's favourite bedtime stories is how the Incredible Hulk teaches a group of bullies a lesson after they made Hulk mad. At three years old he knows that it is not in your best interest to make Hulk mad at you.
As a fisherman very concerned about the path that industry is going down, I am astounded at the number of my counterparts who have expressed the notion, that as a lobby group, fighting the centuries old battle for fairness for fishers, that we must be very cautious not to say anything to make Danny mad at us.
There is an idea, very prevalent among fishers, that like the Hulk, you'll be sorry if you get Danny mad.
No doubt such a notion has its origin in the vigour, determination and wrath that Premier Williams has shown in his battles against Ottawa and Big Oil.
Unlike many of my fellow fisherman, I feel it is time for Danny to get mad - not against the fisherpeople who are the backbone of rural NL and whose incomes fuel the economies of service towns like Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor, but against the powerful corporate interests whose monopoly on the buying of fish products is squeezing the life out of fishermen and their communities.
If the government can grant a monopoly on the buying of fish products to the powerful fish merchants, then such a monopoly should have the following conditions attached.
(1) Processors should be forced to pay fisherpeople a fair price for their catch. This is, in effect, all fisherpeople are asking - the certainty that they are receiving a fair price.
(2) Such a price should be set by an independent panel, after ascertaining prices paid in similar regions, and considering all factors in the equation.
(3) If buyers, whose monopoly is backed by government, refuse to cooperate and buy, then one of two courses of action should be taken. Either the fish merchants concerned should have their buying licence revoked for a period of time, or alternatively, the markets of the world should be opened up to fisherpeople.
It is clear that if Danny doesn't get more involved in the fishery issues, that in 10 years the processors will end up owning all the licences, and independent fisherpeople will be a footnote in our long seafaring history.
Competition and fair prices is the only way to attract new blood to this industry, and with the average fisherman's age now approaching sixty years, we don't have long to act. So I challenge Danny - Get Mad!