|SKIPPER'S BLOG: Fishermen Picking Up the Tab?
When it comes to political press releases, Random-Burin-St. George’s MP
Judy Foote certainly must be among the leaders in number of releases sent. We
get about two a day on average from her. That’s a lot for a single opposition
(and not even official opposition) MP.
At any rate, an interesting one came in this morning (see our main page
for the story) regarding the downloading of costs onto fishermen by the federal
She asserts that the Conservative government is making life difficult for
fishermen by downloading the costs for all sorts of management and conservation
items — things like at sea observers, gear tags, logbooks, etc. —right to the
In the case of the gear tags, she quoted the federal minister, Keith
Ashfield, as suggesting that paying for those is a simple cost of doing
business for fishermen.
But when you look at the kind of money fishermen pay out every year to
government, you have to ask when the cost of doing business is merely a
catchphrase being used by a government that is raiding the pockets of its
fishing industry with all the subtlety of a drunken bear in a meat market.
Sure, any business owner, large or small, will tell you that all levels
of government — municipal, provincial and federal — have their hands in
business pockets constantly.
But I would argue that few business owners are warming government’s
greedy hands in their pockets more than fishermen. It’s actually almost ridiculous
when you think about what some of them have to deal with.
What about things like licence fees? Every year fishermen have to pay
fees attached to their licences just to renew them and go fishing. In some
cases that might be a $100 renewal fee. In other cases, like in IQ fisheries in
some areas, you might have to pay per tonne and it can get very pricey. There
are fisheries where harvesters are paying exorbitant amounts of money JUST TO
GO CATCH FISH.
And then you have to look at other things like the cost of vessel
inspections and certification, which we recently highlighted in The
Navigator, are about to cost fishermen more than ever before — we’re
talking thousands of dollars here in some cases — thanks to some federal
changes in how fees will be collected and how assessments will be carried out.
And then of course there are the conservation and management costs listed
by Foote. Those are small potatoes compared to some others, but they are
See, government is making money from fishermen and the industry by acting
as the owner of Canada’s fisheries resources. You have to pay to catch their
And yet they appear less and less willing to spend any money tending to
that resource to ensure its sustainability. Furthermore, not only are they less
inclined to spend, but they are making their customers pay the bills instead!
As my grandfather used to say, “That’s great work if you can get it.”
And that’s all before we even get anywhere near standard business costs
like tax remittance, insurances, and HR costs.
And we didn’t even touch the escalating costs of essential fishing items
like gear, replacement, fuel (which, by the way, government collects another
hefty pile of money from), maintenance, repairs docking, and everything else
that goes with a fishing enterprise.
Yes, all business owners have a beef with the money that comes out of
their wallets and goes into government. But we’d have to agree that fishermen
are among the most susceptible to government “hand in pocket” disease.
Mike, Posted on Friday, October 12, 2012
You have provided a good overview of the costs of doing business in the fishery.
What may strengthen your position would be to include a review of benefits these costs bring.
John, Posted on Friday, November 09, 2012
I am a Fisherman and agree on your comments of the cost of doing business in the fishery. You have not menion the courts. The courts are feeding of the Fishing industry just as much as the useless union we have. Most of the charges that are laid my DFO are on policy, not law. It hasn't anything to do with conservation. These Judges and Crown proscuters wouldn't know a Rock cod from a Tomcod, yet they create years of employment for themselfs, mean while destroying Fish Harvesters lives. DFO will tell you its the cost of doing business. Remember the Blue Back case over thirteen years on the Docket.