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REF NO.: 244

SUBJECT: Memorial University’s Harris Centre hosts forum on fisheries policy and rural revitalization in Stephenville
DATE: March 23, 2006

Memorial University’s Harris Centre in conjunction with the Long Range Economic Development Board and Marine and the Mountain Zone Corporation will host a forum titled, Fisheries Policy and Rural Revitalization: An Integrated Approach. The public forum will be held on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, Stephenville. 
            The decline of rural Newfoundland and Labrador has been the focus of much public debate, attention and intervention in recent years. Despite best efforts, the crisis has deepened with an increasing number of communities struggling just to survive. Government’s task is daunting; it must stem the steady out-migration of the younger population, reduce unemployment and create an environment in rural Newfoundland and Labrador that will attract investment and foster the establishment of viable communities. It also must find the means to maintain and enhance public sector infrastructure and services in the face of reduced fiscal capacity and a mounting debt burden.
            The backbone and strength of rural Newfoundland has always been the fishery, and while it has been seriously threatened and challenged on all fronts, it continues to survive and refashion itself to avail of resource abundance and access and global market opportunities. With a changing international market, however, the industry now faces new threats from low-cost competitors in the developing world, in particular. On the home front, the fish-processing sector is confronted by an older and ever-diminishing labour pool, which is directly related to the decline of the rural communities that have supplied it. The fishing industry, particularly the processing sector, must find a way to counter these two trends in order to remain an economic force in the province.
            What is the future of the fishery – and by implication, of rural Newfoundland and Labrador – given the changes in the resource, in the markets and in technology? This presentation will explore the options available to tackle the challenges ahead.
            Keynote speaker, Eric Dunne, acting managing director for the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation at the Memorial University’s Marine Institute, will discuss the development of the fishing industry as key to the economic revitalization of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
            Panelists Johnny Purchase, an inshore fisherman from the Southwest Coast, Allister Hann, mayor of Burgeo and former fisheries enforcement officer, and Dr. Noel Roy, head of the Department of Economics, Memorial University will provide their perspectives on this vital issue.
Audience members will be encouraged to participate in a dialogue on the future of the fishing industry and rural revitalization and to challenge the panel in a question and answer period with ideas for better solutions to the future of the fishery. Reception to follow.
A regional workshop in Economic Zones 9 and 10 will be held at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday March 29 as well. Participants will have the opportunity to identify new opportunities with stakeholders in the region. 
Media agencies are encouraged to send representatives to both events.

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