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Silences And Lies: How The Industrial Fishery Constrained Voices Of Ecological Conservation

Carol Corbin

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Abstract: In combination with historical research, this paper uses interviews of fishers, fishery workers, scientists, and Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) enforcers and observers to recount the communication processes that occurred before the 1992 collapse of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada. As the fishery industrialized over the course of the twentieth century, those who worked in the industry became increasingly segregated. Distinct discursive realms emerged, among them "fishers' vernacular," "scientific language," "product talk," and DFO's "official word." There was little dialogue between the groups and little collective opposition to the overfishing. DFO's "official word" claimed that the stocks were strong despite protestation to the contrary from several fishers' groups and DFO's own scientists. The outcome for the region was economically and ecologically devastating. R