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Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation

Privatizing the Rock


By Darrin M. McGrath

Presented to the Inland Fish and Wildlife
Advisory Council November 8, 1997

*Not for quotation without the permission of the author.



On June 14, 1997 a two paragraph story appeared in the Corner Brook daily newspaper The Western Star, entitled "separate licence for Gander River." It was reported that anglers wishing to fish on the Gander River (in central Newfoundland) would have to purchase a special licence (cost $20.00) from the Gander River Management Association, which would then use the money to further develop community-based watershed management. The establishment of community-based watershed management represents a major shift in how river systems are managed in Newfoundland and Labrador, and it has generated much controversy, including many claims that it is the beginning of watershed privatization.

This paper assesses the impacts of the concept of community watershed management and it suggests that this system stands to have major negative impacts on residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. The paper begins with a brief sketch of some of the resident opposition to watershed management, then I discuss how natural resources like ponds, rivers, salmonids and big game are related to Newfoundlander's way of life, historically and at present. This information is important to understand the full implications of watershed management for residents of this province. After this, I briefly discuss the history of outdoor tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador. This material helps place contemporary claims about the economic benefits of community <><>watershed management and tourism based on angling in their proper context. Next, I examine some of the social scientific literature on conflicts over natural resources from around the world. This material can help us understand the conflict, controversy and tension that surround community-watershed management. Following this literature review, some of the major problems associated with community watershed management are discussed.


The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, which represents all Rod and Gun Clubs on the island, has slammed the concept of community-watershed management as privatization (News Release from Gordon Wight, Western Vice-President, NLWF; Gordon Cooper, NLWF President, article in Newfoundland Sportsman, Nov.Dec. 1997). Similarly, Owen Myers, a well-known St. John's lawyer and member of the Board of Directors of the Salmon Association of Eastern Newfoundland, made the front page of the Evening Telegram with his statement that the watershed management implemented on the Gander River could lead to privatization (Evening Telegram June 16, 1997).

Also, residents from one end of the province to the other have resisted the move to control watersheds. For example, a large majority of residents on the Northern Peninsula voted against the establishment of community-watershed management in the Main Brook area (Northern Pen, April 22,1997). Similarly, the Treasurer of the Corner Brook-based Salmon Preservation Association of Western Newfoundland (SPAWN), Douglas Randell resigned in May, after calling for SPAWN to disassociate itself from the Salmonid Council, which supports the implementation of community-watershed management rWestern Star. May 2,1997).

More resistance to watershed management occurred in late 1996, when almost 1,000 people from the Clarenville area signed a petition against watershed management/river privatization in Newfoundland. This petition was presented in the House of Assembly by the local MHA (Clarenville Packet. Dec.16, 1996). Also, people from the Gander River area have complained about the effects of watershed management on local people, such as outfitters seeking land-ownership rights along the Gander River (see letter to the editor of the Evening Telegram July 5, 1997 by Donald J. Blackmore) or special early big game hunting seasons for non-residents along the Gander River (letter to editor of Evening Telearam May 3, 1997 from Bruce Matthews).

Similarly, the privatization of 21 provincial parks by the Government in February, 1997 was also highly unpopular with residents of the province as seen in letters to the editor, rallys, petitions, advertisements against privatization, etc. Significantly, 9 of the 21 parks privatized contained sections of or bordered on salmon rivers, including Grand Codroy, River of Ponds, Fitzgerald's Pond, Sops Arm (located at the mouth of the Main River designated a heritage river) and Indian River. I will now examine the link between the environment and Newfoundlander's way of life.

Newfoundland Culture and Natural Resources

Philosopher F.L. Jackson, in a book called Surviving Confederationf says that Newfoundland culture has been largely influenced by the natural environment of bogs, barrens, woods and rocky sea-coasts. Newfoundlander's lifestyles, values and choices, have been and continue to be shaped by the natural environment. Jackson states "Newfoundlanders are nature people in a way perhaps no other Canadians are" (1986:).

1The European settlement of Newfoundland grew/developed around the harvesting of natural resources - cod fish primarily, but salmon, caribou, fur bearers (and of course moose and rabbits after their introduction) all played an important part in the diet and commerce of Newfoundland's European settlers.
2 Most settlers were
fisher folk, but hunting played an important part in their economic activity (see for example Nemec, 1993; Story, 1993). The early settlers' diets in large part consisted of fish, game and the natural vegetation of the land (Story, 1993).

For example, sea-birds and their eggs were a vital part of people's diets. The great auk was used for food, bait, feather mattresses, and oil (Montevecchi and Tuck, 1987:211). Similarly, the native caribou, either fresh or salted, was the main source of

1 Jackson's work has been criticized (see Overton, 1988), but Newfoundlanders have high participation rates in outdoor activities.

The Native Groups who were in Newfoundland before the
Europeans also relied heavily on natural resources and the
importance of such resources to the Native People's way of life
cannot be over-stated.

meat for many of the inhabitants of Newfoundland. One writer at the turn of the century theorized that "Newfoundland is probably the only country in the world where venison, salted or fresh, is a staple article of diet for the masses" (McGrath, 1902:63). Saunders (1986:237) relates that at the end of the 1800s, settlers on the northeast coast of the island took caribou whenever they needed it. Moose was introduced to the island in 1878 and 1904 (Pimlott, 1953:563), and subsequently replaced caribou as the most important big game species (Peters and King, 1959:3-4). Horwood (1986) also discusses the importance of moose to the outport diet. Similarly, the snowshoe hare or rabbit was introduced in the mid-1860s and became an important source of fresh meat in winter to those living along the coast and on offshore islands (Saunders, 1986:160).

Not only were wildlife resources important food items, but the sale of rabbits, partridge and caribou was also a source of income for residents [see for example: McGrath (1911:195); Butler (1980:90-101); and Saunders (1986:160-163)]. Newspaper editor P.T. McGrath left the following description of the winter caribou hunt on the south coast of the island:

This south coast deer hunt is a regular industry, like the catching of cod or lobster. The settlers are fitted out for it by their merchants just as they are for the other pursuits named. The outfits consist of advances of requisites for the hunters families, the deer killed being turned over to the merchant on the close of the hunt to offset advances received...the product of the hunt is then loaded on dog teams and hauled out to the coast, where the outfitters ship the meat to St. John's, there to be sold on the open market for what it will fetch. In January, 1900, the mail steamer...brought 411 and 575 carcasses in two shipments.. .choice cuts of venison can be bought for five cents a pound (McGrath, 1902:64).


Clearly, wildlife resources were highly important to residents around the turn of the twentieth century.

Historically, wildlife resources also influenced settlement patterns in Newfoundland. For example, Don Downer's recent book about the community of Sandy Point in Bay St. George, says that the presence of near-by salmon rivers attracted settlers to the area (Downer, 1997). Similarly, Nemec (1993) says that the presence of large seal herds helped draw European settlers to the north-east coast of Newfoundland.

Wildlife resources are also symbolically important to Newfoundlanders (Ashton, 1986; McGrath, 1997). For example, many geographic sites are named after animals (e.g. Deer Lake, Black Duck Brook, etc.). Significantly, caribou heads appeared on the Regimental Badges of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, and a caribou statue stands at Beaumont Hamel, the site of the WWI battle where so many of the Regiment or "Blue Puttees" were slaughtered on July 1, 1916. To commemorate the Regiment's service in WWI, Newfoundland issued stamps with caribou on them (see McGrath, 1997 for a full discussion of the symbolic importance of wildlife).

Wildlife resources have been and continue to be an important part of the male socialization process in Newfoundland. Many young males grow up going in the woods hunting and angling with their fathers, uncles, older brothers and friends. That is, hunting and angling continue to be an important part of the male role in contemporary Newfoundland.

Today in Newfoundland, large numbers of people still engage in

wildlife-related activities like hunting, angling, canoeing, etc. Statistics Canada surveys have consistently indicated high participation rates by Newfoundlanders in wildlife-related activities (see for example, Filion et al., 1987). Similarly, the 1994 LGL Report (Strategy for Development of the Recreational Fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador) says that resident trout and salmon angling contribute approximately $100 million to the provincial economy (Cooper, 1997).

The importance of wildlife-related activities in contemporary Newfoundland has been made clear in the 1995 book Living on the Edge; the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland by MUN sociologists Larry Felt and Peter Sinclair. Felt and Sinclair surveyed residents of the Northern Peninsula and found that two of the factors people liked most about living on the Northern Peninsula were the close proximity to the outdoors and outdoor-related activities, and the sense of freedom associated with this. Clearly, Newfoundlanders continue to enjoy a close relationship with the outdoors, and resources like ponds, rivers, trout, salmon, big and small game, still figure prominently in people's lives. I now turn to a brief examination of the history of outdoor tourism in Newfoundland.


An Historical Overview of Consumptive Outdoor Tourism 3 By the late 1800s Newfoundland's "great outdoors" had become part of the tourist industry. For example, Seymour (1980:34) argues that since the 1800s there have been "more-or-less vigorous attempts to promote tourism in the province... based initially on hunting, fishing and the climate." To a colony looking to diversify its economy beyond the fishery, the seemingly inexhaustible supply of game, fish and wilderness appeared as an attractive development alternative.4 The railroad company played an important part in transforming the caribou into a tourist resource, as the trans-island line (virtually completed by 1898) had opened up the interior, allowing access to the migrating caribou herds.

The railway company was a big booster of the outdoor tourist industry and produced some of the first tourist promotional literature, which described Newfoundland as a "sportsman's paradise abundant in caribou and other game" (Pocius, 1994; Overton, 1996). For example, the Reid Newfoundland Company produced Fishing and Shooting in Newfoundland and Labrador (1903), the main object of which was "give the angler and huntsman some idea of the great sporting country of Newfoundland and Labrador."5 Evidence which

3 See my 1994 essay on the history of consumptive outdoor tourism in Newfoundland in and Pocius (1994) and Overton (1996) work. Pocius' (1994) essay shows that non-consumptive tourism has also been promoted in Newfoundland since the early 1900s.
4 A number of sportsmen/tourists who went afield at that time left accounts of their trips. See for example: Davis (1895), Millias (1907), Selous (1907) and Rogers (1912). See also: Koran's (1981) essay on caribou in the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland.

5 Pocius' (1994) essay provides an excellent account of the promotional work of the railroad company.

supports the argument that the Newfoundland government viewed wildlife as economic commodities is found in the Legislative Council Proceedings on the debate of the 1910 Game Board Bill. The elected representative who introduced second reading of this Bill stressed that the colony's wildlife needed protection, since it was a valuable economic asset that could help increase tourist traffic (Newfoundland, 1910a: 686-687). The famous Judge Prowse also wrote about the potential benefits of outdoor tourism in his History of Newfoundland:

To the sportsman, the tourist, the angler, and the canoeist, the new railway will offer unrivalled attractions. For the hunter of big game there is the noble cariboo, a species of reindeer peculiar to the island; they range over the woods and barrens in countless thousands, the whole interior is one vast deer park...our island offers some of the finest grouse shooting in America (Prowse, 1895:632-633).

Clearly, wildlife resources were important economic commodities to Newfoundland's government by the early twentieth century. However, this conflicted with resident's interest in wildlife resources. Recall from the discussion of Newfoundland culture above, that hunting wildlife played an important part in Newfoundlander's lives, as both a food source, and a source of income. However, this is not to imply wildlife resources were unregulated by government.

Game laws were first enacted in Newfoundland on April 23, 1845, when "An Act for the Protection of the Breeding of Wildfowl in this Colony" was passed (Peters and Burleigh, 1951:31). On April 20, 1859, "An Act for the Protection of the Breeding of Wildfowl and Preservation of Game" was passed. This 1859 Act recognized the rights of "poor settlers" to take wildlife resources whenever necessary to feed their famalies (Montevecchi and Tuck, 1987:213). The special rights of "poor settlers" continued to be recognized in wildlife laws, until they were amended in 1899, after which time "poor settlers" were not mentioned specifically in wildlife legislation (See: McGrath, 1997; Overton, 1980:44-45). That is, the early law-makers recognized that wildlife resources were an extremely important part of the settlers' lifestyle. However, by the early twentieth century, wildlife resources had been trans­formed from a resource free for the taking into a recre­ational/sporting resource governed by laws. The laws in place by the early 1900s specified when wildlife could be taken, how much might be taken and in what manner.

However, residents of the island did not discontinue harvesting wildlife resources after the implementation of the game laws. In fact, there is much evidence which demonstrates that the game laws were not closely adhered to. For example, a newspaper item concerning the "slaughter of caribou" on the south coast, reported that a policeman from St. John's had been sent to the area to investigate reports of poaching (The Evening Chronicle. February 18, 1910). In a like manner, the first Annual Report of a sportsman's organization, the Game Protection Society, states that the Society had played a role in bringing a man to trial for illegally purchasing caribou. The accused was convicted and fined $200.00 or six weeks in jail (Evening Telegram, August 3, 1891). Similarly, the Game Board Report for 1914 stated that deer were being killed throughout the year, for both consumption and for sale in adjoining settlements (Game and Inland Fisheries Board, 1914:8). Clearly, settlers defied the game laws, and wildlife resources remained an important part of the subsistence lifestyle.

Thus, there was social tension and conflict surrounding the use of wildlife resources in Newfoundland by the early twentieth century. Settlers involved in a subsistence lifestyle saw wildlife resources as a source of food and income, while government and tourism supporters saw the same resources as important components of the tourist trade.

<>However, despite resident opposition and resistance to the game laws, the interest in tourism based on Newfoundland's outdoors may have intensified in the 1940s. For example, Overton suggests (pers.comm.) that military personnel stationed in Newfoundland during WWII may have done a lot of hunting and fishing, thus contributing to interest in developing that sector. Around this time, the Tourist Development Board of the Department of Natural Resources hired a professional sportsman, Lee Wulff, to promote the country's wildlife resources to the North American market (Overton, 1996). Government interest in consumptive outdoor tourism may have waned a little in the 1950s and '60s, as mega-projects were looked to as economic generators. However, this is not meant to imply that this sector (or tourism in general) was ignored. Overton's (1996) work on tourism and development in Newfoundland suggests that Premier Smallwood's government was interested in developing the tourism sector, but approached it slowly and cautiously. Overton (1996) says that Small wood "had"a 'go-slow' approach to tourism

<>development, waiting for improvements in transportation like the Trans-Canada Highway. However, by the late 1970s, this hesitancy had been transformed into a more decisive attitude toward tourism development, which has been maintained into the 1980s and 1990s. Having completed this sketch of the history of outdoor tourism, I will now briefly review some recent social scientific literature on natural resource development and social conflict. Natural Resource Management and Social Conflict

There is a large body of literature on the conflicts surrounding the management and development of natural resources (see for example: Novek and Kampen, 1992; Novek, 1995; White, 1993; Penning-Rowsell, 1994; Naeser and Smith, 1995; Akama et al., 1995; Sinclair and Palmer, 1996; Lach, 1996; Goulay, 1997; Genoval, 1997). This body of work can help us understand the conflict and tension surrounding the establishment of community-watershed management in Newfoundland.

Sociologist Denise Lach (1996:211-212) says "environmental conflict occurs when decisions about the allocation of resources are made." Lach also makes the excellent point that social conflicts over resources can have positive results. For example, fairer resource allocation may result.

White's (1993) research examines how tourism might be used as an economic development tool for the Native American people living on the Havasupai Reserve, near Grand Canyon National park in Arizona. The study shows the complexity of tourism as an economic development strategy, and identifies that there may be trade-offs associated with tourism development. For example, a protected area may draw tourists to an area, but it may also interfere with local traditional activities like hunting. Overton (1978), and Olwig and Olwig (1978) make similar points in their discussion about National Parks in Newfoundland, and the Caribbean respectively.

Penning-Rowsell's (1994) work examines the management of the River Wye, in the United Kingdom. The River Wye is not privately owned, it is totally open-access and is unique among UK rivers in this respect. The author uses the Wye as a case to test the "tragedy of the commons" viewpoint. This view, put forth by Garret Hardin in 1968, theorizes that what is open to use by all, will suffer from competitive over-exploitation.

Penning-Rowsell (1994:635-37) says the River Wye is a popular destination for both canoeists and anglers, and the main conflict on the river is between these two groups. [Both groups also said they had conflicts with riparian owners]. For example, anglers complain that canoeists ruin the fishing by boating through pools. The author used a questionnaire survey to test the attitudes of 242 river users, mostly canoeists and anglers, concerning the conflict over river usage. Almost all the canoeists surveyed (99%) opposed compulsory restrictions on their activities ((1994:639), while only 10% of the anglers favoured any more controls on fishing (1994:641). Thus, despite the conflict, resource users on the River Wye, are against any further restrictions on their activities (1994:641). Also, the author concludes on note more optimistic than

that implied by Hardin's theory of a common resource. That is, on the River Wye, canoeists and anglers have come to grudgingly accept each other, and realize the need to share the river, so the "tragedy" predicted by Hardin is not readily apparent.

Another good example of social conflicts over natural resources comes from Akama et al.'s (1995) research on Nairobi and Tsavo National Parks in Kenya. The authors interviewed 157 local people and 44 park officials and found that less than 20% of local people reported a good relationship with park management, while 57% stated the parks should be abolished (1995:139). While the National parks are vital to Kenya's tourism industry, there is clearly conflict over them. For example, farmers who live near park boundaries suffer crop damage, livestock loss, or even have a friend or family member injured by wildlife (1995:139). The authors conclude by saying that people living near the two parks have very strong negative views, and that the Kenya Wildlife Service faces an uphill battle for the support of the people. It is suggested that the government of Kenya initiate steps to integrate wildlife as a positive factor in the lives of the people living near parks (Akama et al.,1995:142-144).

While Akama et al. (1995) suggest a path for resolving the resource conflict they studied, research from Thailand, and from Newfoundland, indicates resolving resource use conflicts may not be easy. For example, Tungittiplakorn (1995) focused on conflicts between high-landers and low-landers in the Mai Soi River watershed in northern Thailand. The author interviewed 150 villagers and

found that the low-land rice farmers blamed the people of the high­land for destroying the forest and contaminating the river, while the high-landers indicated a broader set of socio-political reasons for the dispute (1995:282-285). For this reason, the author concludes that resolving the conflict will be difficult because the parties involved have different perceptions of it.

Similarly, Palmer and Sinclair (1995) interviewed 61 dragger skippers on the northwest coast of Newfoundland concerning their attitudes about the cod moratorium in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the future of the fishery. The authors say that until the mid-1960s, the fishery on the northwest coast of Newfoundland was carried out by families in small boats, using stationary gear. After 1965, some modern fishing draggers began to appear along the northwest coast, and tension/conflict developed between the modern fishing fleet and the traditional fixed-gear fishers (1995:270-271). Like the research on Thailand discussed above, Palmer and Sinclair found that there was a considerable lack of unity among the 61 dragger skippers interviewed concerning the state of the fish stocks, and how to manage the future fishery (1995:277). The authors say that the disunity is not surprising given the different material interests of the skippers. However, the fisher's different perceptions about the causes of the crisis and the future fishery, suggest it will be difficult to implement a sustainable management system involving resource users.

A central theme found in most resource management conflicts has to do with the issue of how efforts to use resources to create jobs can disrupt social harmony. This notion is well-discussed by research of Novek and Kampen (1992), and Novek (1995), on the environmental controversy surrounding two pulp and paper projects in Alberta and Manitoba. Novek and Kampen (1992:262-267) discuss what they see as the government's contradictory role as promoter of economic development and environmental manager.

Essentially, the argument is that the government must promote economic development and must also provide social programs for the benefit of all, such as environmental preservation. The latter goal has become particularly important given the heightened environmental consciousness in the world today, and given the fact that governments must win re-election. That is, some degree of public acceptance of government policies is necessary in order for a government to stay in power. Of course, environmental preservation is also necessary to support economic growth over the long term, and to win public acceptance. However, the primary commitment of government often seems to be economic growth.

The controversy surrounding the proposal to burn American waste in Long Harbour, Placentia Bay in the early 1990s, exemplifies how a plan to create jobs was unpopular with environmentally-conscious voters. A similar example is seen in Bailey et al.'s (1992) research on a hazardous waste dump in Alabama, U.S.A. The authors suggest that local leaders were chiefly concerned with economic benefits, while most citizens were concerned with health hazards and environmental contamination.

The body of research on natural resource management issues can

help us understand the conflicts that have accompanied the establishment of community-watershed management in the late 1990s in Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador is the poorest province in Canada and its unemployment rate is twice the national average. Obviously, job creation is an important issue, but at the same time, the government also has a mandate to protect the environment and manage it for the sustained use of residents. Outdoor tourism has been identified as a growth sector, and policies have been enacted to maximize its benefits. However, these policies negatively affect local hunters/anglers/voters.

For example, outfitters may want access to rivers controlled so that they can market quiet, uncrowded angling vacations. Calvin Yates, Manager of Outdoor Product Development with the Provincial Government, stated that the quiet, uncrowded wilderness experience is important to the nonresident sports who visit here (interview, 10 October, 1997). On the other hand, local anglers/hunters abhor the thought of loss of access to "their" river. This contradiction was highlighted in a 1997 study of the potential economic benefits of angling on the Humber River, commissioned by the Salmonid Council. Sixty-eight percent of nonresident anglers surveyed favoured controlling access, while eighty-seven percent of residents were against controlling access (Salmonid Council, 1997).

Similarly, Penning-Rowsell's (1994) work discussed above, shows that in the UK, neither canoeists or anglers favoured any more controls on access as a way to minimize conflicts between the two groups. In addition, the previously reviewed work of Akama et al. (1995), White (1993), Overton (1978), and Olwig and Olwig (1978) all show that local people have experienced some negative side-effects, as protected areas like parks have been developed and used as part of a region's tourism strategy.

The issue of how best to use and protect resources is a complex one. Famous conservationist Aldo Leopold recognized this fact many years ago:

Public policies for outdoor recreation are controversial. Equally conscientious citizens opposite views on what it is and what should be done to conserve its resource base (1966:259).

In Newfoundland today, equally conscientious citizens clearly hold different views on how to manage the province's rivers. Many, many local people have made it clear they are against privatization and controlled access to watersheds. At this point, I will now outline some of the main problems associated with the establishment of community watershed management.


The first major negative impact of community watershed management for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador will be user fees. For example, anyone wishing to fish for salmon on the Gander River this year, had to pay twenty dollars for the river specific licence. If some-one wanted to go fishing on other salmon rivers, they had to purchase the regular salmon licence for twenty dollars. So, if watershed management is established on six rivers across the province for example, will it cost one hundred and twenty dollars to fish on those six rivers? (The editorial in the Sept.-Oct. ,1997 issue of the Newfoundland Sportsman succinctly discusses this issue of rising costs associated with watershed management).

As it now stands, consultants have estimated that recreational angling by residents contributes 101 million to the provincial economy, while non-resident angling adds 5 million (LGL Report, 1994; Cooper, 1997). Why is government trying to get more money from resident anglers, who already make a significant contribution to the provincial economy? And, when we consider that Newfoundland and Labrador is the poorest province in the country (highest unemployment rate and lowest average income based on Statistics Canada figures) why is government trying to further tax people's recreation with an extra user fee? Cooper (1997:43) argues that based on the experience in other provinces like Quebec, "the cost to fish on a river could very well be out of the reach of the average Newfoundlander." Similarly, Owen Myers suggests that the cost to fish could place rivers out of reach for many people (Evening Telegram, June 16, 1997).

A second reason why community-watershed management stands to negatively impact on local people is because the project is based on the idea of controlling resident access to watersheds. That is, residents will lose the free access they now enjoy to watersheds throughout their province. A variety of documents about watershed management also discuss controlling resident access (O'Brien, 1992; LGL, 1994; Salmonid Council, 1997). The main idea behind controlling access is that more wealthy, non-residents can be lured

to the rivers by marketing "quiet, uncrowded conditions." Proponents of watershed management also claim that controlled access is necessary to protect/conserve stocks.

For example, Dave Vardy and Dave Tulk in "Community-Based Management in the Gander River Watershed" (p.119) state that "Angler crowding in key accessible pool clusters is occurring in several parts of the river." Similarly, a 1992 discussion paper by Peter O'Brien, from the now defunct Economic Recovery Commission, entitled "A Community Based Salmon Sports Fishery" discusses how river management should be carried out by community groups who would become responsible for all activities on the river (O'Brien, 1992:4). O'Brien goes on to say:

To ensure that outfitters would have a marketable opportunity, the management group would have the responsibility of designating salmon pools for the exclusive use of outfitters and salmon pools for the exclusive use of non-outfitter rods (O'Brien, 1992:5).

The previous year, O'Brien prepared a report for the Economic Recovery Commission which recommended leasing salmon rivers to outfitters (O'Brien, 1991).

Similarly, in "The Canada-Newfoundland Agreement for Community Watershed Management" (by Alastair J. Allan) it is stated that the recreational fisheries resources of a watershed will be available to users on an "equal opportunity-for-access basis." What does "equal opportunity-for-access" mean? Does it mean free and open access? No. The 1994 LGL Report (Buchanan etal., 1994:186) states that "equal access does not mean free or uncontrolled access." Does it mean that everyone's name goes into a lottery for places on

salmon pools, with so many places (probably the best angling spots) set aside for outfitters? If such a lottery is run like our present big game lottery, it may not be fair to the resident (more below on this). However, Allan is clear that the desires of residents are

not a concern for him:

This project is not about increasing the pleasure of recreational angling in Newfoundland nor about increasing the amount of fish on the Newfoundland table (Allan, p.115).

Similarly, the 1994 LGL Report (Strategy for the Development of the Recreational Fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador, principal authors Buchanan et al.) discusses crowding by residents (1994:165) and it states:

Local anglers will have to compromise in their use of quality fishing waters if economic benefits are to be realized from a nonresident fishery (Buchanan et al., 1994:170).

This report goes on to say that one goal to enhance the 'fishing experience7 is controlling access (Buchanan et al.,1994:177). Significantly, the present government has stated it will follow the policies outlined in the LGL Report (Liberal Red Book. 1995; see also Cooper, 1997).

<>A 1997 report prepared for the Salmonid Council on the "Potential Benefits of Recreational Angling on the Humber River" also discusses controlling resident access as a way to enhance the nonresident angling experience. This report interviewed 55 resident anglers in a three week period in July, 1997 along the Humber River, and 403 questionnaires were mailed to nonresidents after the fishing season had ended. Sixty-eight percent of nonresidents favoured controlling access, while eighty-seven percent of residents were against controlling access. (The research methods employed in this study are suspect, for example, why were so many more nonresidents surveyed? I critique the study below).


Recall from the above discussion of Newfoundland culture that in the past and in the present, outdoor related activities like angling, hunting, canoeing, etc., and the freedom associated with this occupy a prominent place in people's lives. Therefore, resistance to the imposition of a watershed management system which will limit people's outdoor freedom is easily understood. Watershed management is not contributing to social harmony, and in fact, has created much social tension. Clearly, residents of Newfoundland do not want access to waterways controlled or limited in any way. To limit resident access to waterways is to drastically alter the way Newfoundlanders interact with the surrounding environment, an important part of their culture.

Related to loss of resident access is the third major negative impact of community-watershed management, namely the establishment of special rights for outfitters. Community-watershed management is based on the notion of expanding nonresident angling (Buchanan et al., 1994:155). As made clear in the quotes given above from O'Brien (1992:4-5), and Buchanan et al. (1994:170), local anglers are expected to surrender rights of access and freedom so that quiet, uncrowded salmon pools can be marketed to nonresident anglers. I wonder if local anglers are aware that they are expected to surrender their rights of access so that outfitters can sell more trips? I don't think they are. I have spoken to many individuals and groups who had not even heard of the LGL Report. Similarly, Owen Myers told me that he spoke to many, many salmon anglers this summer who had not heard of the LGL report or its recommendations.

Not surprisingly, as part of the Gander River Management scheme established this year, a special nonresident big game hunting season was announced in which nonresidents hunting from an outfitters7 camp along Gander River would be allowed to hunt almost a full month before residents. This early hunt would have provided quiet, uncrowded hunting conditions for the outfitters' clients. However, to the residents of the province, this is really unfair, since residents must enter a lottery to apply for a moose or a caribou license each year, and may wait two or three years to obtain the license and area they prefer to hunt. Nonresidents on the other hand, can purchase a moose and a caribou license every year from an outfitter.

And it seems that as resident quotas are reduced, nonresident quotas are increased. For example, from 1991-96, wildlife division statistics indicate that nonresident moose allocations increased by 356, while resident moose quotas were reduced by almost 3,800 licenses! If moose licenses are reduced by almost 3,800 for conservation reasons, why aren't outfitters quotas reduced, or at the least, maintained at existing levels? It is not fair that there are fewer available licenses for residents to apply for, while there are more licenses available for nonresidents to purchase; particularly, when you consider that residents' tax dollars are

used to fund the management and protection of our big game herds.

Even more disturbing for residents is the fact that outfitters are lobbying for other special rights. For example, the Secretary of the Labrador Outfitters' Association, in an April 28, 1997 letter to then Minister of Forest Resources, Beaton Tulk, said that outfitters should be exempt from the split tag rule for salmon fishing. At present, anglers purchase a salmon license and get six plastic tags to attach to the fish they kill. Three of the tags are for the first half of the season, and three are for the second half. And by the second half of the season, many salmon have already moved up rivers to spawn, so the angling is not as good. So in effect, the split-salmon tag rule is a conservation measure designed to ensure that salmon escape upstream to spawn. Thus, outfitters want to be free of the constraints of conservation rules.

Another April 28, 1997 letter from the President of the Labrador Outfitters7 Association, Len Rich, to provincial Minister Beaton Tulk, and Federal Fisheries Minister Fred Mifflin, demanded that outfitters in the Straits of Belle Isle area be exempted from the no-retention of large salmon rule, and that the commercial fishery in that area be closed, and that resident anglers only be allowed to retain small salmon. Similar to the issue of moose licenses discussed above, we have to wonder if salmon conservation is applied equally to all user groups?

A fourth reason why we must be critical of community-watershed management is because three of the main arguments used to support this project are seriously flawed. These three arguments are: (a) watershed management will have major economic impacts like creating jobs at the local level; (b) watershed management is the best way to ensure that rivers are not privatized; (c) watershed management will provide better protection for salmonid resources. I will now critique each of these points in turn.

A). The idea that watershed management will create jobs and have major economic impacts has been well criticized by the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation, Gordon Cooper (Cooper, 1997). Cooper says that watershed management is modelled after the ZEC system in Quebec. A ZEC is a controlled harvesting zone. Cooper says that most jobs created in ZECs are seasonal (around 12 weeks) with an average salary of $8,000. Since the changes to the El program mean that seasonal workers will be receiving reduced benefits for a shorter duration, Cooper raises two excellent questions when he asks; "Is this what rural people are supposed to live on? Is this Life after TAGS?" In addition, the whole argument about the economic benefits of watershed management rests on vague, questionable assumptions about the value of a salmon caught by an angler.

An example of the shoddy research used to bolster the argument about the "benefits" of recreational angling is seen in the Salraonid Council's 1997 study on the potential benefits of the recreational fishery on the Number River written by Gardener Pinfold Consulting Economists of Nova Scotia. For example, do the numbers of residents (55) and nonresidents (403) surveyed accurately reflect the reality of nonresident/resident angling on the Humber? Why were face-to-face, river-side interviews used for residents, while questionnaires were mailed to nonresidents after they had returned home? People are likely to have different reactions to questions based on the location and format of the questioning, so can we accept the findings as valid? In addition, the 55 resident anglers were all interviewed during a three week period in July, so is this sample representative of the resident angling population that fishes the Humber? Wouldn't it have been better to conduct interviews with resident anglers over the length of the angling season?

Similarly, the 1994 LGL Report, which the provincial government has given a stated commitment to following, says in its "Recommended Strategy" that the economic contribution of angling has been ignored in the past (Buchanan et al., 1994:165). This is clearly not an accurate statement as made clear by the above discussion of the history of outdoor tourism in Newfoundland. In the early 1900s, the Railroad Company (Reid Newfoundland) was involved in promoting Newfoundland as a "sportsman's paradise." Similarly, Lee Wulff was hired in the 1940s to market angling and hunting opportunities in Newfoundland. Clearly, outdoor tourism based on angling and hunting has a long history in Newfoundland, and we can learn from that history, an important point ignored by the authors of the LGL Report.

B). Another argument used to promote community-watershed management is that the project will actually prevent privatization

from occurring. However, I wonder if privatization hasn't already begun? After all, the provincial government has down-loaded responsibility for watersheds onto various groups like the Gander River Management Association (GRMA), which was responsible for selling salmon licenses for the Gander River in the summer of 1997. Supposedly, the money collected from license sales would go to GRMA for use in river maintenance, counting fish, etc. If GRMA has control over river enhancement, maintenance, licensing, etc., hasn't privatization already happened? Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation President Gordon Cooper also woonders if privatization hasn't already begun in his recent essay on the topic (Cooper, 1997).

To play devil's advocate, what if we accepted the argument that community-watershed management was not privatization; could privatization result? Yes, it could. The Assistant Deputy Minister for Natural Resources, Dr. M. Nazir, stated that if all stake­holders involved in watershed management agreed to give part of a river to outfitter(s) then government would consider this (interview 10 October 1997). (Again, I wonder that since the watershed management association has such decision-making power, hasn't the river system already been privatized?) Based on Dr. Nazir's comments, we see that government could wash its hands of the highly controversial ssue of watershed management in this way; and, some people have asked for river privatization. For example, Calvin Yates, Manager of Outdoor Product Development reported that a "couple of development associations" have quietly asked for river

privatization in the interests of generaing economic returns (interview 10 October 1997). Similarly, a man who has been outfitting for thirty years said "there are some people within government and some outfitters, who would like to privatize rivers."

It is crucial to remember that community-watershed management is about maximizing the economic returns from recreational angling, even if this means privatizing. The Economic Recovery Commission of the previous provincial government recognized this in its 1991 O'Brien proposal, A Plan to Commercialize the Atlantic Salmon Fishery which recommended leasing rivers to outfitters. A year later, the ERG and Mr. O'Brien released A Community-based Salmon Sports Fishery which recommended setting aside specific pools for outfitters. Similarly, the 1994 LGL Report (Strategy fr Developing the Recreational Fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador) recommends limiting resident access, reducing crowding and expanding nonresident angling trips sold through outfitters.

C). A main point used to "sell" community watershed management is that if rivers are left open-access, stocks of salmon and trout will be depleted. That is, proponents claim that watershed management is all about conservation. For example, the LGL Report states in large, bold-faced print that unless river management is changed, "BIOLOGICAL, POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS WILL FORCE CHANGE, MUCH OF WHICH WILL BE NEGATIVE" (Buchanan et al. , 1994:170). This statement is what sociologist Joel Best (1987;1989) calls a range claim; it is an attempt to make everyone in the

audience feel like a potential victim and thus get "on-side." The LGL statement is essentially a threat; a rhetorical claim intended to persuade people that unless we act now to control access, rivers will be devastated by the rapacious public.

Similarly, by claiming to be fighting for the issue of stock conservation, proponents of watershed management establish themselves as the "good guys" and any opponents immediately are against conservation, and thus are the "bad guys." In fact, this happened to me while I was making my watershed management presentation to the Inland Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council. The representative of Partridge Forever, David Moores, told me I was not a conservationist because I opposed the watershed management system. Conservation is a motherhood issue, and it's hard to argue against. The idea that if resources like salmon rivers are left open access they will inevitably suffer from competitive over-exploitation is called the "tragedy of the commons." I will now briefly outline the theoretical background of the"tragedy of the commons" viewpoint, after which I will critique the main assumptions of this model.

The /Tragedy of the Commons7

According to Ophuls (1977:146) since the distant past people have believed that common resources tend to be abused. For example, the Greek philosopher Aristotle said "What is common to the greatest number gets the least amount of care" (quoted in Ophuls, 1977:145). This notion of the commons has played an important part in debates surrounding a wide variety of resources. Perhaps the most significant theoretical statement on the commons was put forth by Garrett Hardin in a 1968 essay entitled "The Tragedy of the Commons" (see: McCay and Acheson, 1987:1-2).

Hardin based his ideas upon the work of a 19th century writer, W.F. Lloyd, who wondered why the cows on a common pasture were so "puny" and the pasture itself worn bare. Lloyd argued that such an outcome was practically inevitable, since herdsmen seeking economic gains naturally increase the size of their herds. However, the common field is finite and has a fixed carrying capacity. Once this point is reached, then the addition of more cattle causes the land to deteriorate, resulting in destruction of the farmer's livelihood. Even though a terrible outcome results, it makes sense for each individual to keep adding animals to his herd, because the resulting personal gain outweighs the share of damage done to the pasture. As well, the damage is done to the entire pasture, and is thus spread among all users.6 Even if a herdsman thinks about the

<>6 Lloyd was referring to what are now referred to as EXTERNALITIES. This is the notion that people are unlikely to restrain their behaviour when they immediately benefit from their actions but the costs of their

<>behaviours passed on to society as a whole.



Benefits that might result from the individual regulating dire consequences of expanding his herd, he may be driven by the notion that his neighbours will add to their herds, increasing their gains while he suffers the consequences of a deteriorating pasture. Thus, Lloyd concluded that "competitive over-exploitation of the commons is the inevitable result." This process of "competitive over-exploitation" was said to apply to any common resource (Ophuls, 1977:146).

Ophuls (1977:146) uses the oil pool as an example to make his point clear. If exploitation rights are not controlled by one individual or company, and if the exploiters can not agree on a logical method of resource extraction, then it is in each individual's best interest to get as much of the oil as he or she can. Failure to extract the "black gold" as quickly as possible may result in other users depleting the stock and leaving the hesitant person empty-handed. Therefore, Ophuls argues, chaos abounded in the early days of the American "oil boom," as drillers competed fiercely with each other to sink as many wells as possible. The confusion was remedied through the establishment of government control boards which appraised oil deposits and allocated quotas to owners. Thus, the "answer" to the "tragedy of the commons" was increased government management (1977:146).

Therefore, the "tragedy" is seen as inevitable for many (all?) common resources, unless some intervention in the mechanics of the

their behaviour are not clearly seen (McCay and Acheson, 1987:3). Pollution is a good example of "externalities." The cost to control emissions from a factory is much larger than the proportionate share of environmental damage passed on to a factory owner, i.e. it pays the owner to pollute (Ophuls, 1977:147).

common property occurs, or unless the commons is transformed into private property. Thus, this theory has been used to support arguments that increased government intervention was needed to deal with the issues of population, society and environment. At the same time, an apparently contradictory idea was presented; that government should leave this role to the private sector. Privatization, it is argued, increases individual responsibility for both the environment and increases the likelihood of the wise use of resources.

Critique of the "Tragedy of the Commons" Model

Hardin's "tragedy of the commons," has been heavily criticized (McCay and Acheson, 1987; Marchak, 1987; and Berkes, 1987; 1989). McCay and Acheson (1987:6-10) state that Hardin's "tragedy of the commons" is a model and is therefore simplified and abstract. The authors suggest that we cannot generalize to all cases from the model without considering many questions. For example, are there rules governing the use of the commons? Do alternatives to resource exploitation exist? Are there means of observing and regulating the actions of people in a commons situation? Acheson and McCay assert that ignoring such questions (which are assumptions of the model) leads to the erroneous conclusion that because people are involved in common property activity, a tragedy of the commons will result (1987:7). McCay and Acheson outline several false assumptions made by the model. The first false assumption of the "tragedy" model is the idea that common property always equals open-access (McCay and Acheson, 1987:7-8). That is, the theory fails to distinguish between common property in which there are no relevant institutions (i.e. open access) and common property as an institutionalized part of the society in question (the commons). Historical research has shown that open access is not the same thing as common property. Additionally, this assumption leads to the conclusion that controlling access is the only means of solving problems of the commons. When initiated, this conclusion had led to "tragedies of people" who lost their means of survival as the commons was enclosed. McCay and Acheson (1987:8) assert that in a true common property situation, access and user rights are exclusive to a specific group of people and are shared equally. That is, "common property is not everyone's property," even though it may be thought of that way in certain circumstances. Common property thus has both an exclusive, and an inclusive dimension. The way that fishing berths used to be managed within Newfoundland communities would be a good example of how the "commons" was informally managed.

Another faulty assumption made by the tragedy model is that resource users are selfish, unrestricted by community norms and attempt to increase short-term gains (McCay and Acheson, 1987:7). That is, the ability of people to cooperate in common property situations is underestimated or ignored. This in turn may lead to a tendency to ignore social, historical and institutional analysis. For example, the work of Berkes (1987; 1989) on the James Bay Cree, and Shiva (1991) on Bengalese villagers in India, has shown that collective norms have effectively controlled the actions of individuals involved in common property systems. Similarly, Don Downer's recent book on Sandy Point, Bay St. George, says that as the wood began to grow scarce on the island, the community enforced an informal rule that fire-wood should be cut elsewhere (Downer, 1997:288-89).

Similarly, the authors of the LGL Report clearly take a dim view of Newfoundlander's conservation ethic. That is, the LGL report seems to "tar all Newfoundlanders with the one brush" and paint them as lacking any kind of a conservation ethic. I don't mean to romanticize here, obviously, there are some people who will take as much of a resource as they can, however, is this a characteristic of all residents? For example, I know many residents who oppose catch and release salmon angling because they fear it kills many fish. Are these people lacking a conservation ethic, or are the bureaucrats and politicians who permit catch and release without a conservation ethic?

Yet another misleading assumption involved in the "tragedy" model is the idea that resource use is so intense that the rate of exploitation exceeds the natural rate of replenishment and that over-exploitation is possible (McCay and Acheson, 1987:7; Berkes, 1987:67). Again the work of both Berkes (1987) and Shiva (1991) demonstrate that this assumption is problematic. We need look no farther than Rennie's River system in St. John's to see that the "tragedy of the commons" does not have to occur. Rennie's River has

the highest densities of brown trout in the world, runs right through the University campus and city, and is totally open-access.

A final faulty assumption in the "tragedy of the commons" model is the idea that the solution to the tragedy lies in external intervention and privatization of property (McCay and Acheson, 1987:9). Implicit here is the notion that private ownership protects resources from abuse and degradation. However, privatization does not ensure conservation occurs. For example, Palmer and Sinclair's (1997) book When the Fish are Gone, examines the northwest Newfoundland fishery and it states that in 1984, the DFO implemented the enterprise allocation or boat quota system to regulate the dragger (or trawler) fleet. Palmer and Sinclair say that theoretically, this was an attempt to introduce a degree of private property ownership in the hopes of avoiding competitive over-exploitation. However, this technique failed, providing more evidence that privatization does not ensure resource conservation.

Similarly, Shiva's research on "wasteland development" in Bengal, India argues that external control of the commons by the government did not prevent destruction of the common forest, instead it helped accelerate resource exploitation (1991:173-178). The notion that privatization will solve the tragedy of the commons reduces causes of environmental problems to systems of property rights, and common property status is not a viable explanation for resource depletion (McCay and Acheson, 1987:7). For example, Berkes work on the Cree of James Bay, clearly shows that neither the "tragedy of the commons," or sustainable resource use are inevitable. Resource users will not necessarily behave in a manner leading to either over-exploitation, or sustained use (1989:70-72).

Berkes (1987:87-88) writes that the "tragedy of the commons" in not inevitable (see also Berkes, 1989). This not only implies another criticism of Hardin's model, but also raises the question as to why so much attention has been focused on the model? That is, if this "tragedy of the commons" model is so badly flawed, why has it occupied such a prominent place in thinking about natural resources? Berkes suggests two explanations; first, people tend to be fascinated with tragedies and disasters. Secondly, western culture tends to overemphasize competition and underemphasize cooperation, and this may be influencing scientists' views (1989:72). Since the "tragedy of the commons" model is faulty, then we cannot accept the argument that limiting resident access or privatizing rivers is necessary to conserve stocks.

I am not against conservation; nobody wants another cod crisis. However, resource depletion will not inevitably follow from a system of open-access. For example, as mentioned above, Rennie's River in St. John's is totally open-access and, according to now retired DFO scientist John Gibson, it has the highest concentrations of brown trout in North America. Significantly, Rennie's River and other rivers in and around St. John's have suffered degrading abuses. Quite often this abuse has originated from various levels of government (not the "rapacious" Newfoundland public) which have permitted the city's rivers to be used as open-sewers, to be ditched, or buried underground in culverts. For

example, visit the section of Waterford River behind the train station on Water Street West to see samples of raw sewage flowing down to the harbour, or visit the section of Kelly's Brook behind the outfield of St. Pat's Ball park, which has been uncovered to allow the river to clean itself before it enters Rennie's River.

I also want to make clear that this paper is not meant to diminish the excellent conservation work done by individuals/groups in the past. For example, as Wildlife Federation President Gordon Cooper has pointed out (Cooper, 1997), the work done in the Indian Bay eco-system to rebuild trout stocks has been great.

However, watershed management is not only, or even primarily, about resource conservation. Rather it is about maximizing the economic returns from recreational angling, in particular nonresident angling. Thus, we can reasonably expect to see increasing user fees, and concessions like special seasons or controlled access made to outfitters so that they can make more money. This is not only unpopular, but very unfair to the residents of Canada's poorest province, who have such a tradition of intense interaction with the countryside and its resources.

Government, and groups like the Salmonid Council (which has a high percentage of outfitters among its membership and thus has a vested interest in rivers) have attempted to sell watershed management using the promise of jobs, the idea that watershed managemment will prevent privatization, and that resource conservation will result. However, this paper has made clear that the economic benefits of watershed management have been over-

stated, that resource depletion will not inevitably result under an open access system, and that privatization of rivers has begun under the euphemism of "community-watershed management."

Darrin M. McGrath has a Master's degree in sociology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. The author's MA research was supported by a research grant from the Institute of Social and Economic Research at MUN, a Graduate Fellowship from MUN, and by a scholarship from the Canadian Wildlife Federation. The author has published several peer-reviewed articles on wildlife management in Newfoundland.


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