Nfld. & Labrador

Politicians mum on fisheries during election campaign, says advocate

Kimberly Orren works to spread knowledge of the fishery, but wonders why it hasn't been a talking point during this campaign.

Fishing still a lifeline, so let's talk about it more, says Kimberly Orren

Kimberly Orren says the fishery hasn't been a popular topic in the current Newfoundland and Labrador election campaign. (CBC)

Kimberly Orren works to spread knowledge of the fishery's place in Newfoundland and Labrador's culture, but says politicians haven't been spreading much of anything about the industry during this ongoing election campaign.

Orren, a board member of the non-profit social enterprise Fishing For Success, said she's been disappointed by the lack of talk she's perceived.

"There's been no discourse about the fishery or fishing in the election talks so far. And I'm wondering where is it?"

The fishery is still a lifeline in many small towns, where boats like this one in Petty Harbour fish a variety of species. (Submitted by Neville Webb)

Orren says the fishery is worth a lot to the province, and is still a lifeline for many small communities. She believes it should be as much an election issue as potholes and job growth.

But it's not just the money brought in by fish harvesters, she said.

"If we think about culture and heritage, all you have to do is walk The Rooms and see all of the beautiful artwork that's there that's based on oceangoing and fishery-related activities. So what inspires us? Our musicians are [also] inspired by the sea and fishing."

Voters will head to the polls in the province on May 16. 

Attracting youth

Orren said she'd like to see a government make a strong effort to entice young people to join the fishery. 

"The state of the fishery is pretty discouraging as far as young people getting involved," she said. "The average age of the new fish harvester is 37 which is not speaking well to fishing for the future."

Then there's the plan to grow food sustainability to 20 per cent by 2022, which has prompted investment and new initiatives in agriculture. Orren questions why candidates aren't talking about how fishing can fit into that goal.

Cod fishing was the industry the province was built on. While it collapsed in the 1990s, there are still people that make their living on it. (CBC)

Promoting the industry to youth and newcomers is her passion, and she wants to see it picked up by the wannabe politicians vying for spots in the province's 40 districts.

"Small scale fisheries are still the best resource that our rural communities have for their resiliency and their sustainability, and heritage preservation and poverty eradication, and food security and there's just so many connections to fishing that we all really need to start talking about."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Here & Now

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