© Adam Harnum
Joyleen Chia of Australia, a guest speaker at a fishery session as part of CU Expo held at the Pepsi Centre Saturday, June 15, 2013, invites attendees an opportunity to share their issues.
By Adam Harnum
Star Staff Writer
CORNER BROOK — People involved with the province’s fishery came together at a session hosted at the Pepsi Centre Saturday morning as part of the CU Expo to share and discuss issues faced within their regions.
“They were all a little different but they were looking at some of the challenges that are being faced in their regions as well as seeking future directions,” said Kelly Vodden, associate professor at the Environmental Policy Institute at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Vodden, as well as Kristen Lowitt, PhD candidate at MUN, shed light on the presentation for the Bonne Bay region.
According to the women, the fishery and tourism industries are both very big employment sectors, therefore, a study was done to better understand the relationship between the two and find solutions to the problems with the fishery in that area.
“These industries are connected in a lot of ways despite the fact that there are a lot of households which have members that are employed in both industries,” explained Lowitt.
She said during the stages of the project she had been looking at some of the potential ways the industries can be worked together because they are both so important economically for the region.
Lowitt also noted it is important for the Bonne Bay region to have more collaboration between the two industries because of the rich history and culture of fishing embodied in the people living in the area.
“We looked at two main points during the study,” she said.
Lowitt explained that the first point was geared toward better understanding the process involved with getting seafood into restaurants where tourists could consume it.
She said the second focused on experential tourism opportunities linked to the fisheries, such as through demonstrations on wharves or people going out on fishing boats for tours.
“I spoke with a bunch of tourism operators who said they would love to be able to say that this person caught the fish at this time and it came from this boat, so that when it gets to the restaurant then there is a whole story attached to the seafood,” said Lowitt.
“It is more traceable, in some ways, as more of a story and can be linked directly to local residents,” she added.
Vodden went on to express her interest in the study.
The associate professor feels one of the interesting aspects of the study was the results of a survey which indicated that about half of community members in the Bonne Bay area find it difficult to access seafood.
“They are more happy with the quality of the seafood as that ranked higher rather than a satisfaction with the availability and affordability of seafood,” said Lowitt.
Meanwhile, Vodden believes there are a number of reasons for these perceptions, which did not come out in the survey, but admits follow-up interviews got people to think more about it and provide explanation.
“Today was great — it was interesting to hear quite different presentations together but there was a common element and it was about how people of the community can get a voice in research, policy decisions, and what are some of the ways that we can reach out to people of the industry,” said Vodden of the session on Saturday.