EDITORIAL: DFO needs to listen to oldtimers

It's not a matter of longing for 'The Good Old Days'

When people yearn for ‘The Good Old Days’ it’s difficult not to roll your eyes.

Often it’s a tainted vision, one that selectively chooses some good memories and tosses any idea of struggle. This Good Old Days view also tends to dismiss technology like it has hindered humans, not helped.

Yes there was a simpler time when kids were sent out the door to “go play” without much fear. A time when your work couldn’t follow you everywhere, 24-7, through some device on your hip or in your purse.

Those who lived in that supposedly more simple time are too often dismissed by those who live in the fast lane now, people who embrace science and technology as the new god and don’t have much time or attention for the ramblings of older people who tell it like it used to be.

That’s a mistake.

First Nations people get it. They embrace elders and turn to them to shape their decisions in these fast-paced times.

After a discussion this week with two fishermen who have been working the waters around B.C. for a combined 100 years, we have less confidence in the techies and scientists who determine what, and how many, can be harvested from the sea.

Seventy-nine-year-old Wally Piatocka put down his cell phone before he pulled no punches. He told us the federal government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans has mismanaged the fisheries. He said the DFO does not listen to the oldtimers.

That’s a mistake.

Piatocka knows more about what’s in the ocean around here than any biologist armed with the latest in sonar or DNA samples. He understands the trends of, say, the herring, year over year. He can look at the snow levels in the mountains, the water level of the rivers, and tell you what kind of year it will be for fishing.

It seems a shame, a real waste of valuable resources, to have a man like Piatocka feel like his input is not welcome. Perhaps it’s time for the DFO to consider — for real and not just a public relations exercise with representatives from various ‘associations’ — an advisory panel of knowledgeable oldtimers.

— Editorial by John Harding

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