It is a complex issue and one that begs for more space than a simple editorial will allow.
Earlier this week, fishers demonstrated at the federal Fisheries and Oceans offices in St. John's, protesting any thought the department might be having about changing the long-standing East Coast policy that limits corporate control within the inshore fishery.
Bear in mind that corporations already own, through licences and quotas, the bulk of the fish that comes out of the water from 100 miles out.
The FFAW and its members are fighting to have the owner-operator principle - the principle that is meant to ensure that fish processors do not get to own inshore licences to catch fish; that the boats that ply the inshore catching crab, capelin cod, mackerel and other species, are owned and operated by fishers with no vested interest or ownership in processing companies.
It's an important principle for fishers. It means fishing enterprises can be independently owned and operated by people who fish the boats, and live in the home ports.
It's meant to limit corporate control of a resource that is, under Canadian law and policy, meant to be a common property, held for the benefit of many.
What the fishers at Monday's protest are fighting for goes beyond self-interest.
They believe, strongly, that independent harvesters, who live and work out of home ports in rural areas, and hire crews from those communities, are better for these small, rural economies. They fear that if corporations are allowed to own inshore licences, and bundle them up, it will eventually mean fewer boats and less work in the inshore fishery, and loss of jobs to the rural economies that now depend on the independent operators.
They fear the fishery going the way of farming; where small, independent operators have been pushed out in favour of large-scale, mass-production systems that eliminated the farming families and their means to make a living.
Current fisheries minister Keith Ashfield acknowledged, in a statement Monday afternoon, that Ottawa is taking a hard look at fisheries regulations to improve the industry.
He notes that Canadian fishermen remain among the lowest earners in Canada and he wants to talk about how Canada can better manage its fishery for the long-term.
Never mind that Ashfield's statement would lead one to believe that resource ownership is the crux of that issue; never mind that poor management of fisheries resources and bad decision-making on quota allocations also impacted fishing economics.
The obvious problem now is, Ashfield hasn't invited everyone to the table.
Apparently, according to the FFAW, DFO held a consultation session in St. John's recently as part of its comprehensive policy review, and most of the people who got to participate in the "by invitation only" meeting were processors and corporate interests.
Therein lies Ashfield's, and Ottawa's, big mistake.
Fear is bred from lack of information and involvement in decision-making. DFO's lack of transparency is feeding the fear and worry.
On a major policy decision that will, essentially, decide the ownership - by virtue of licences - and access to all fisheries resources, the discussion must be open and all-inclusive; involving not just processors, but fishers, communities, rural chambers of commerce and anyone with any vested interest in the future of fishing communities.
So open the door Mr. Ashfield and let us all in.