Barry Darby: I grew up in a fishing family on Great Burin Island and in Collins Cove, Burin, on the south coast of Newfoundland. A sixth-generation fisherman, I fished commercially for eight seasons while obtaining a B.Sc and a BA (Ed) from Memorial University. Through the 1970s and ’80s I taught math and physics at the College of the North Atlantic, and then became Fisheries Adjustment Coordinator at the St. John’s Campus when that program was established in response to the collapse of the cod fishery.
My longstanding interest in public policy has led to involvement at the provincial and community levels. I have worked on a range of issues, with a particular focus on the economics and sustainability of the fish harvesting sector. I was active in the labour movement over several decades in a variety of capacities, and ran as a candidate for the House of Assembly in 1999. I served on the board of the Public Service Credit Union from 1997 to 2009, and was also a director of the regional economic development board for the northeast Avalon during most of that time. For the past three years I have been a member of the board of the Wooden Boat Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, and am an active volunteer at The Rooms. I live in St. John’s.
Helen Forsey: With roots both in Newfoundland and on the mainland, my partner Helen Forsey studied agriculture and then worked in Canada and overseas with CUSO, Oxfam and the National Farmers’ Union. A full-time writer and editor since 1991, she divides her time between St. John’s, a co-op in rural Eastern Ontario, and her Newfoundland Railway caboose at Cape St. Francis.
Changing Course: The policy paper “Changing Course – A New Direction for Canadian Fisheries” evolved over recent years as I reflected on the fishery, its history and its current massive problems. Increasingly committed to this work, but without any clear idea of how to make that commitment count, I attended conferences, read extensively, and talked with people in political, academic and scientific circles as well as with fish harvesters. After a number of my letters on fishery issues were published in the St. John’s Telegram, I realized I needed to develop my ideas into a more comprehensive form – something I could present to the policy-makers and the broader public with the goal of making positive change.
By 2018 I had accumulated extensive notes and jottings on key aspects of this complex subject, and Helen and I began putting it together as a full-fledged policy proposal. In the spring of 2019 it was delivered to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, whose department, DFO, is in charge of Canada’s fisheries management. The paper has also been distributed to a number of key parliamentarians and others for comments and response.
This website, launched in October 2019, makes the proposal available to a wider public, offering the opportunity for further dialogue, which also continues through the media and other means. We are pursuing both official and unofficial responses to the proposal, networking with interested groups and individuals, and pushing towards implementation of the recommended changes. Your input and suggestions will help us move the process forward.