A public forum at Memorial University hosted by the Community-University Research for Recovery Alliance and the Harris Centre will mark the launch of an in-depth policy report that makes a strong case for the revitalization of the provinces fisheries and coastal communities that depend on them.
The report, Moving Forward: Building Economically, Socially and Ecologically Resilient Fisheries and Coastal Communities, is the culmination of an intensive seven-year, community-engaged, multidisciplinary research program called the Community-University Research for Recovery Alliance (www.curra.ca), led by Memorial sociologist Dr. Barbara Neis.
There is a popular notion that our provincial fisheries and communities are broken, and we therefore need to fundamentally change the way we manage our fisheries. Thats simply not the case, said Dr. Neis. Our fisheries and coastal communities are not broken, they have many strengths. However, they also have some significant vulnerabilities. A key vulnerability is the absence of a policy framework designed to enhance their economic, social and ecological resilience into the future.
Our policy paper argues that building resilient fisheries and coastal communities for Newfoundland and Labradors future is one of the most important opportunities and challenges of our time, Dr. Neis continued. It is an opportunity because if we achieve it we will be able to use our fisheries and coastal communities as an engine for economic diversification and future sustainability. It is also a challenge because our coastal fisheries and communities are too often seen as a liability, and dismissed as broken. We have to change our mindset from downsizing to revitalizing our fisheries; from disinvestment to investment in their future. That means we have to make a similar change of direction in our policies.
At the Memorial Presents public forum, Dr. Neis, who co-authored Moving Forward with Dr. Rosemary Ommer, University of Victoria, under the guidance of a multi-stakeholder steering committee, will discuss the overall argument and some of the 22 policy recommendations, both long- and short-term, outlined in Moving Forward.
The living resources of our ocean and the knowledge, culture, heritage, infrastructure and other capacities built up by generations of people who have worked in support of our fisheries and coastal communities are our greatest asset, said Dr. Neis. They are resilient but vulnerable. We have to stop under-valuing them.
Craig Pollett, CEO of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, and Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food, and Allied Workers, will join Dr. Neis for the Memorial Presents public forum. Mr. Pollett and Mr. McCurdy will provide responses from the perspective of municipalities and the people who work in the fishery to Dr. Neis presentation. After the presentation, all three individuals will participate in a panel discussion with the audience.
The Memorial Presents event, Moving Forward: Building Economically, Socially and Ecologically Resilient Fisheries and Coastal Communities, will take place Wednesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in IIC-2001, Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, on Memorial Universitys St. Johns campus. Admission and parking are free; parking is available in lot 15B. A reception will follow.
For those who cannot attend the session in person, it will be webcast live at www.mun.ca/harriscentre.