“A disaster of biblical proportions.” That’s what Richard Cashin, then-president of the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union, said in 1992 when a fishing moratorium was announced on Newfoundland and Labrador’s once-great northern cod stock. Some 20,000 people were suddenly out of work, and within 18 months, almost every groundfish stock from the border with the U.S. to the north coast of Labrador was shut down. Yet while the disaster seemed sudden, the warning signs were there for years: catches were kept much higher than was scientifically recommended, with politicians and managers saying publicly that they were doing so to protect the short-term economics of communities. Some of these communities, and the fish populations they once depended on, still haven’t recovered.
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