Author Archives: Greg Locke

Suncor to abandon Terra Nova offshore oil field

Terra Nova FPSO offshore oil production platform and supply ships at well 350km south east of St John's. Photo by Greg Locke © 2009 Copyright.

Terra Nova FPSO offshore oil production platform and supply ships at well 350km south east of St John’s. Photo by Greg Locke © 2009 Copyright.

St. John’s, Newfoundland (May 27, 2021) – Calgary based Suncor Energy, lead operator of the Terra Nova offshore oil field on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, says it will most likely be abandoning the oil field if it cannot come to an agreement with its seven partners.

Mark Little, the CEO of Suncor, told investors on Wednesday that the floating production platform will be decommissioned if an agreement is not found.

The Terra Nova FPSO was supposed to go to a dockyard in Spain last year when the COVID-19 struck. The ship is now tied up in Bull Arm, Newfoundland in need of a major overhaul that is estimated to cost $500 million.

It will represent the loss of approximately 850 direct jobs, thousand in the supply sector and royalty revenues to the provincial economy.

The project began in 2002 and was the second offshore oil field to go into production following the Hibernia project. This would represent a premature end to the field which is estimated to have 80 million barrels of recoverable oil remaining and 10 years more lifespan.

Suncor’s partners in the Terra Nova are ExxonMobil Canada Properties, Equinor Canada (formerly Statoil), Cenovus Energy subsidiary Husky Energy, Murphy Oil Company, Mosbacher Operating and Chevron Canada Resources.

Final decision is expected on June 15th.

Posted in All, Business, Canadian Journalist, Current Affairs, Energy

Remembering War

GREG LOCKE
November 11, 2016

I can’t do Remembrance Day anymore. Just don’t have it in me. I don’t mean it to be disrespectful. In fact, my respect is infinite. I have had relatives serve in the Canadian, British and American military going back to WWI. I’ve attended the National War Memorial in St John’s, Newfoundland with my father-in-law, a veteran of the Battle of Altona in Italy during WWII, and the rest of the old men many times. I have talked about war far too many times.

Today I have young friends, still in their 20s, who are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq, and I see their pain. I have been to wars and “peace keeping missions” in the Balkans, Central America, the Middle East and Central Africa. Bosnia, Kurdistan, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Haiti, Congo: all beautiful places with rich cultures and decent people, but which are now synonymous with Hell for so many.

While I understand that a culture needs to maintain its ceremonies and traditions and no, we should never forget, I never want to hear canned platitudes like “ultimate sacrifice” and “lest we forget” ever again. For me it trivializes human suffering. Just official words we are trained to mouth. And, because humans do forget. Witness their continuation of self-destruction. Witness how our soldiers and other victims of war are treated.

I keep this photo gallery on my website to remind me that Remembrance Day is not just about the old men and ceremonies at sterile monuments around the country. It reminds me of the soldiers, aid workers, civilians, journalists, friends I met and worked with in Bosnia, and the people I know now still suffering from war.

Nobody comes home unscathed.

DEPLETED URANIUM IMPLICATED IN HEALTH PROBLEMS IN NATO TROOPSBosnia-2-2-c14.jpgBosnia-2-4-c5.jpgbosnia21-c31.jpgbosnia22-c62.jpg

 

Copyright Greg Locke 2016

Photographer and journalist Greg LockeGreg Locke is a founder and the managing partner, visual, of Facts and Opinions. He built the Facts and Opinions website, produces F&O’s photo essays, reports for Dispatches, writes and photographs Think magazine pieces, and contributes to the blogs. Visit his website at www.greglocke.com

 

 

 

~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in All, Canadian Journalist, Conflict, Current Affairs Tagged , , , |

Fort McMurray: Boom, bust … burned

Flames rise in Industrial area south Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada May 3, 2016. Courtesy CBC News/Handout via REUTERS

Flames rise in Industrial area south Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada May 3, 2016. Courtesy CBC News/Handout via REUTERS

 

By Rod Nickel and Liz Hampton
May 7, 2016

CONKLIN/LAC LA BICHE, Alberta (Reuters) – A convoy of evacuees from the Canadian oil town of Fort McMurray drove through the heart of a massive wildfire guided by police and military helicopters as they sought to reach safety to the south of the burning city.

Some 1,500 vehicles began making the 30-mile (50-km) trip at 4 a.m. Friday May 6 in groups of 50 cars. The residents had fled to oil camps and settlements north of the city earlier in the week and had to retrace their route through thick smoke on the only highway out of the area as the fire continued to spread.

“It reminded us of a war zone,” said Marisa Heath, who spent 36 hours in her truck on the side of the highway with her husband, two dogs, a cat and seven kittens. “Eerie. All you could see was cement foundations of houses.”

Helicopters hovered overhead watching for flames, and police set up emergency fuel stations along Alberta Highway 63 to keep the line of cars moving. They headed towards safety south of Fort McMurray in towns including Lac La Biche 180 miles (290 km) away and the provincial capital Edmonton.

Cecil Dickason, a Fort McMurray resident who was part of the convoy, said the battered city looked “awful.” Others described the city as dark and smoke-filled, pockmarked with charred and abandoned vehicles and roadside spot fires.

Bill Glynn, who took part in the convoy, told the Edmonton Journal newspaper that he traveled through smoke so thick he lost sight of the car in front of him as they crept through the city.

“It was awful. It was scary,” evacuee Sarah Babstock told the newspaper. “We came through with clothes over our mouths so we could breathe.”

A Canadian Joint Operations Command aerial photo shows wildfires near neighborhoods in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada in this image posted on twitter May 5, 2016. Courtesy CF Operations/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE

A Canadian Joint Operations Command aerial photo shows wildfires near neighborhoods in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada in this image posted on twitter May 5, 2016. (Reuters Handout)

The fire enveloping Fort McMurray has grown to 247,000 acres (101,000 hectares) in Canada’s energy heartland, forcing 88,000 people to flee this week and threatening two oil sands sites south of the city. Winds will push the main fire northeast on Friday, away from town but parts of the city still burned.

“The city of Fort McMurray is not safe to return to, and this will be true for a significant period of time,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. “So the town site is going to be secured and protected by the RCMP,” she said, referring to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Alberta government has approved emergency funding for wildfire evacuees, and will be giving out C$1,250 ($966) per adult and $500 per dependent.

Fort McMurray resident Crystal Maltais buckles in her daughter, Mckennah Stapley, as they prepare to leave Conklin, Alberta, for Lac La Biche after evacuating their home in Fort McMurray on Tuesday May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Topher Seguin

Fort McMurray resident Crystal Maltais buckles in her daughter, Mckennah Stapley, as they prepare to leave Conklin, Alberta, for Lac La Biche after evacuating their home in Fort McMurray on Tuesday May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Topher Seguin

“Our life is here. We will go back and rebuild.”

After she and her husband fled in different directions as a wildfire burnt mercilessly through Canada’s Fort McMurray, Erin Naughton faces another difficult task: how to keep her family going until they can return to the city they call home.

She fled north to pick up one child, while her husband drove south as traffic and evacuation routes forced them apart on Tuesday.
Believing she will not be able to return to her scorched community for months, the restaurant manager is preparing to send her son and daughter to live with family in Edmonton in Alberta, and Victoria in British Columbia, so they can finish the school year, hundreds of kilometres (miles) apart.

“I’m going to be splitting up the family again,” said a tearful Naughton at the campsite near Conklin, a way station for evacuees from the massive wildfire that has burnt much of Fort McMurray to the north.”But that’s what a mom does, what’s right for her kids.”

The wildfire forced 88,000 people to evacuate this week and burnt at least 1,600 buildings in the oil sands city in western Canada. Residents are not likely to return anytime soon, even to assess damage, according to officials.

In the evacuation centres in Lac La Biche or Edmonton, south of Fort McMurray, jugglers entertained and a Santa gave out toys, trying to bring smiles to little faces.

While some families are sticking together, many others are being forced to consider a fresh start elsewhere – or separate from loved ones – after their homes were destroyed in a city where thousands were already unemployed from the oil industry slump.
Suncor contractor Derek Edwards said he may drive his family, including a daughter, 9, and son, 3, across the country to Ontario for work. Suncor has cut production due to the fires and dropping oil prices. He has a job lined up, but is hesitant.

“There is so much uncertainty right now,” he said at the combination hockey arena-high school in Lac La Biche that is housing evacuees. “I need to take a few days before making decisions that impact my family long term.”

Philippines-born Kirby Abo is convinced it is time to leave.
Abo who works at a Fort McMurray bottle recycling plant is worried about lost income and pondering a move to much-larger Edmonton, 500 km (320 miles) away, to support his wife and three children, who joined him from the Philippines this year. “I think (Fort Mac) is going to be a ghost town for quite awhile.”

A Mountie surveys the damage on a street in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada in this May 4, 2016 image posted on social media. Courtesy Alberta RCMP/Handout via REUTERS

A Mountie surveys the damage on a street in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada in this May 4, 2016 image posted on social media. Courtesy Alberta RCMP/Handout via REUTERS

Leslie Booker, a mother of two who works in Fort McMurray schools in early childhood development, does not plan to leave. Her house, visible through an online security camera video, has survived.
She plans to read and write with her kids, ages 11 and 7, instead of enrolling them in a new school this late in the academic year.
“Our life is here. We will go back and rebuild.”

OIL IMPACT

As exhausted evacuees stranded north of the fire-ravaged Canadian oil town of Fort McMurray sped through the only route out on Friday, about one-third of Canada’s daily oil sands crude capacity was knocked out and some pipelines were closed.

While oil sands facilities are not in the fire’s path, several production companies and two pipeline operators have curbed activities and moved workers and others.\

At least 720,000 barrels per day (bpd) of capacity were offline on Friday, according to calculations by Reuters. That does not include the unspecified reduction in Syncrude output and some other reductions, so some analysts have estimated about one million barrels were shut in.

Following is a list of what oil producers and pipeline companies have said about nearby operations:

– Suncor Energy Inc, whose oil sands operations are closest to the city, said its main plant 25 km (16 miles) to the north and other assets in the area were safe. It has closed its main mining site as well as its MacKay River and Firebag thermal oil sands operations. It cited the precautionary shut-in of takeaway pipelines and limited availability of diluent.

Prior to the fire, Suncor said it was operating at reduced rates of approximately 300,000 bpd because of a turnaround. The main mining site can produce up to 350,000 bpd. Suncor said it expects to promptly return to full production and restart planning is well advanced.

Separately, it said Syncrude continues to operate at reduced rates due to limited labour.

– The Syncrude oil sands project, owned by a consortium of companies including Suncor, said it was reducing operations to help support employees affected by the fire. Syncrude has 2,000 evacuees staying at its camp.

– Imperial Oil Ltd said that as a precaution, workforce levels at its Kearl oil sands mining project have been reduced to essential staff only. Production has been reduced by an unspecified amount. It said its physical plant is unaffected by the fires.

– Athabasca Oil Corp said it shut the Hangingstone project and evacuated all personnel. The fire front is estimated to be within 3 miles (5 km) of the Hangingstone site.

The company said it was in the process of shutting down the well sites and the central facility. On its website, the company said that with a production ramp-up underway, the project was expected to produce 12,000 bpd by the fourth quarter 2016

– Statoil ASA said production at its Leismer oil sands project has been cut by 50 percent to 10,000 bpd to preserve supplies of diluent, which is added to viscous oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines.

– Canadian Natural Resources Ltd said there were some operation outages at its Horizon project, but current operations are stable.

– ConocoPhillips said it shut its 30,000-bpd Surmont operations and evacuated people and workers from the site.

– Nexen Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s CNOOC said late on Wednesday it was shutting its Long Lake oil sands facility.
Long Lake can produce about 50,000 bpd of synthetic crude but has been operating at reduced rates since late January, when an explosion at the plant left two employees dead.

– Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it closed its Muskeg River and Jackpine oil sands mines, whose combined capacity is 255,000 bpd.
– Husky Energy said it cut production at its Sunrise oil sands project to 10,000 bpd from 30,000 bpd after a pipeline that supplies the project with diluent was shut down.

– Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd said on Thursday it was bringing its Great Divide production back up to 8,000 bpd, after cutting it to 4,000 bpd on Wednesday. Great Divide is 80 km south of the city, and produced 14,000 bpd in the fourth quarter.

– The following oil sands companies with operations in the region said they were not affected: Cenovus Energy Inc, MEG Energy Corp and Japan Canada Oil Sands Ltd.

PIPELINE COMPANIES:

– Enbridge Inc said it shut all pipelines in and out of Cheecham Terminal on Wednesday evening.

The Cheecham facility was evacuated and the Athabasca Terminal reduced to a minimum staff for safety reasons. Line 19 south of Kirby Lake continues to operate, it added.

– Midstream energy company Keyera Corp said its South Cheecham rail and truck terminal, 75 km (47 miles) south of Fort McMurray, has been evacuated and shut down. South Cheecham is a joint venture between Keyera and Enbridge.

– Inter Pipeline Ltd said on Thursday it reopened its Polaris diluent pipeline to the Fort McMurray area and is ready to reopen its Corridor pipeline system that serves Shell’s oil sands facilities when that operation reopens. No pipeline assets incurred significant damage as a result of the wildfires.

– TransCanada Corp said it does not expect the wildfire to affect deliveries of natural gas. The nearest pipeline is about 20 km (12 miles) west of the current wildfire.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Euan Rocha and Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto; Compiled by David Gaffen and Josephine Mason in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jeffrey Benkoe Additional reporting by Ethan Lou, Allison Martell in Toronto, Nia Williams in Calgary, Catherine Ngai, David Gaffen in New York, David Ljunngren, Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Writing by Amran Abocar; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Ron Hynes: the man of 1000 songs departs for Cryer’s Paradise

Ron Hynes photographed by Greg Locke

Newfoundland singer – songwriter, Ron Hynes, dies at age 64. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

GREG LOCKE
St John’s, Newfoundland, November, 2015

Newfoundland singer-songwriter and musical legend, Ron Hynes, died Nov. 19. He was 64. In an ironic coincidence there was a power failure in downtown St John’s around the same time. Across the bar I heard someone say, “I guess Ron turned the lights out when he left.”

Hynes’ music and writing marks a generation that began with Newfoundland’s cultural renaissance in the 1970s. It saw the rise of The Mummer’s Troup, Figgy Duff, Wonderful Grand Band, CODCO, Breakwater Books, Newfoundland Independent Film Co-op and visual artists such as Christopher Pratt, David Blackwood, Gerald Squires and Reginald Shepherd … and so many more.

Collectively, their art is the iconography of Newfoundland and, for the current generation, the touch stones and inspiration for the wealth of Newfoundland musicians, writers and visual artists that followed them. There are far too many to mention, but you see and hear them on Canada’s national TV, radio and in the print media almost daily, and some have international acclaim.

Little of Hynes’s work was the happy, cheery folk tunes most people think of when someone mentions Newfoundland music. His was the music of a story teller: tales of the realities of people’s lives; of the odd melancholy; of hard-won culture and existence in wind-blown sea spray, face up to the North Atlantic ocean.

Ron Hynes was known as The Man of a Thousand Songs, the title of one of his more well-known works. And as a songwriter Hynes was on par with the likes of John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt.

His most famous song, Sonny’s Dream, has been recorded by scores of musicians in dozens of countries. It is such a universal story that in many places it has entered into the local cultural canon as a traditional song. Many a Newfoundlander tells of being in pubs in Ireland, and getting into arguments when the song is played (and every pub musician plays it). They will say it’s a Newfoundland song. “No, no, it’s a traditional Irish song,” they are told. This is Mary Black’s fault. She had an enormous hit with it in Ireland.

Hynes’ life was not easy. There were bad deals with record companies (see his song, Record Man), the yoke of addictions, eventually a long struggle with cancer. But he wrote and sang right up to the end. He was working on a new album when he died.

“The body of work that he has left with us is such an enormous treasure for our province and for our people because it is us, it’s our stories and our songs,” said Alan Doyle, of the band Great Big Sea, in an interview. “We had somebody who could record our history in songs that he could sing at a concert and it’s just a beautiful testament.”

Ron Hynes outside The Rose & Thistle on Water St in St. John's, Newfoundland Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

Ron Hynes outside The Rose & Thistle on Water St in St. John’s, Newfoundland Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

In 2006 I was assigned to photograph Ron Hynes for a magazine story. It would turn into a week long adventure through his world. Calling, connecting, missing, chasing him around the bars and coffee shops of downtown St. John’s. I went with him to shows, for lunch. We talked about the hard life of the artists in Newfoundland. I finally nailed him down to a formal photo shoot at the LSPU Hall. The one-time union hall became Newfoundland arts landmark, where so many of Newfoundland’s musicians, actors, performers and playwrights sprung forth, and where Hynes premiered Sonny’s Dream in a concert in 1977.

In that magazine article for Saltscapes, author Philip Lee wrote, “Ron will keep going so long as his favourite song is the one he’s about to write, so long as he feels there is another great one just around the corner. Every day that he is home he reads the words of playwright Samuel Beckett that he has tacked on his wall: Perhaps my best years are behind me. But I wouldn’t quit. Not with the fire in me now.

“I’ve never been able to escape Newfoundland,” Hynes told Lee, “The decision to stay there has coloured my work forever more.”

On Friday Nov. 20 there was a single candle lit by a statue of Hynes at the foot of George Street, the St John’s bar and entertainment district, where Hynes and his fellow musicians plied their trade for years. By any measure, it’s A Cryer’s Paradise.

Copyright Greg Locke 2015

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Links and recommendations:

Do read Philip Lee’s story, Man of a Thousand Songs about Hynes in Saltscapes magazine. It’s the best profile piece I seen to date about Ron Hynes.

Newfoundland’s Cultural Renaissance. …a history of art and culture revival.
Ron Hynes, personal website.

LSPU Hall (after the Longshoremen’s Protective Union)

Recommended videos: Watch Sonny’s Dream, below, and also:  Cryers ParadiseMan of a Thousand Songs, and Record Man.

 

Photographer and journalist Greg LockeGreg Locke is a founder and the managing partner, visual, of Facts and Opinions. He built the Facts and Opinions website, produces F&O’s photo essays  and occasionally writes for our reports, magazine pieces, and blogs.

Greg Locke has been a professional photographer, media producer and journalist for more than twenty-five years. Locke has covered politics, economics, energy issues, international development and civil conflicts in more than 30 countries, including the fall of communism in eastern Europe in 1980′s, civil wars in the Balkans and the conflicts of central and east Africa in the 1990′s. He has published three books and has been a regular contributor to Canadian Business, Canadian Geographic, Time, Businessweek, Macleans and Forbes magazines.

For more about Locke’s work you can visit his website at www.greglocke.com

 

 ~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , |

Marg!, Princess Warrior joins the fray

Newfoundland writer, actress and comedian, Mary Walsh, finally chimed in on the Canadian election with her character, Marg! Princess Warrior, this week with her Marg Brings Change campaign. Made famous on This Hour has 22 Minutes, Marg has been smiting politicians with her foam sword for many years and her love for Stephen Harper is legendary.

“Don’t waste time turning in your neighbours on the barbaric Harper hotline; send some real ‘cents’ to Ottawa instead,” advises Princess Warrior Marg Delahunty.

“Prime Minister Harper didn’t want to save Syrian refugees, our right to privacy or democracy, but he did want to save the penny. Unfortunately, like the cent, Harper will take a while to get out of our system so let’s send a load of cents to Ottawa now — and on October 19.”

Joining the ever-increasing crowd of prominent Canadian musicians, writers, artists, scientists, social activists, unions, environmentalists and the millions of Canadians who want change this election, Marg urges Canadians to help her bring change to Harper.

“I’ll give Mr. Harper our two cents,” Marg promises Canadians. In a campaign launched today entitled, Marg Brings Change, the Princess Warrior has created a video calling for Canadians to click on the virtual cent on her website www.margbringschange.ca ; she vows to match every click and every share with a real cent. Later this month Marg will personally deliver everybody’s two cents to Mr. Harper.**

“And vote!” the Princess Warrior commands. “Vote anything but Conservative! Don’t make me come back and smite you!”

**All money will go to aiding Syrian refugees in Canada.

Watch the Video, Click the cent, Share widely and Help Marg bring your two cents to Ottawa!

Visit www.margbringschange.ca

or the Facebook page: Marg Brings Change
https://www.facebook.com/Marg-Brings-Change-1474903259506286/timeline/

Posted in All, Canadian Journalist, Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Life goes on in rural Newfoundland

FAO-Morreys-sheep-TorsCove-1810

Bringing the sheep back from the summer community pastures on the island at Tors Cove on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore. A practice that has been going on for more than 200 years. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

 

GREG LOCKE
September, 2015

Bay de Verde, Conception Bay, Newfoundland– Travelling around Newfoundland this summer I began seeing signs of life, culture and a society I thought were lost forever.

The cod moratorium was thought to be the death of rural Newfoundland. The outports are estimated to have been emptied of more than 50,000 people. Boats, houses, property …entire villages, abandoned. Newfoundland and Labrador’s historic cod fisheries attracted local and international fishing fleets for almost five centuries before the Canadian government shut the industry down indefinitely in July, 1992. By then, once-plentiful fish stocks had dwindled to near extinction, and officials feared they would disappear entirely if the fishery remained open. The moratorium put about 30,000 people in the province out of work, and ended a way of life that had endured for generations in many outport communities.

Except … it didn’t.

On the wharfs and in the twine lofts people are living their lives and following the old ways. In Tors Cove, just a 30 minute drive south of the capital, St. John’s,  Howard Morry was bringing his sheep back from the islands where they spent the summer grazing safe from dogs and coyotes. …the way it’s been done for generations.

FAO-WWF_GSL-9742

Community party in a fisherman’s twine loft Bay de Verde, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

In Bay de Verde, fish were caught and parties and feasts went late into the evening. Just like the days in 1990 and 1991 when I spent all my spare time travelling the island documenting a fast disappearing culture. The sun sinks into the ocean, the moon lights the cove and the winding pathways through the village as people gather around the music and laughter from the sheds where coolers full of beer rattle with ice and deep fryers and barbecues sizzle with lobsters, crab and cod fish.

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Old historic houses, shops and fishing buildings are being restored in once booming places like Bonavista, Fogo Island and Elliston. Towns like Eastport and Glovertown are awash in new construction and service industries.

Newfoundland has been discovered by well-heeled and adventure tourists. They paddle in expensive kayaks alongside local fishermen in the new trendy hot spots.

Sure there is gentrification in the remote bays and coves, but the old ways remain. The new comers learn how to survive from the old timers and the few young Newfoundland people who were not meant to live in the cities of western Canada.

What happens when a government abandons its people? Do they disappear? What happens when the contract, trusts and social bonds between politicians, bureaucrats, scientists and the community its suppose to serve is broken?

In the years leading up to the destruction of the cod stocks, fishermen were warning the politicians and scientists that the fish stocks were disappearing, catches abnormal and erratic. These were not the fishermen with large offshore trawlers — the high-tech fishing factories — but small-boat fishermen living in the villages who fished close to shore, immersed in fish habitat and habits.

Officialdom turned a deaf ear. The message was that stupid uneducated fishermen don’t know anything. They lack biology degrees. They are ignorant of the machinery of politics.

FAO-WWF-Canada_BaydeVerde-NL_GREGLOCKE-1647

Fishermen from Bay de Verde, Newfoundland catching their small allocation of cod fish in Conception bay. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

More than 25 years later, Newfoundland rural culture survives in small, wise, pockets. They have learned a lot about the politics of Canada’s federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. More than they would care to, probably. The small-boat fishermen were proved right about the cod stocks.

In recent years those few still fishing are telling the politicians and scientists that cod catches are up, that the fish are the largest seen in more than 30 years.

They want to a return of a small, specialized, sustainable cod fishery for inshore fishermen and fishing communities. They are backed with science and expertise in sustainable fishing from groups as diverse as the fishermen’s union, World Wildlife Fund and independent biology and social scientists. All are working together on plans for that commercially viable, sustainable, community based fishery which the government doesn’t want to hear about it because its model is a fishing industry for a small number of large multinational food companies.

And DFO scientists, bureaucrats and politicians are still not listening.

It’s no surprise that all trust and respect has broken down between Newfoundland’s people, and the government, and scientists. And as the government, politicians and industrial fishing companies continue to abandon rural Newfoundland, it’s nice to see that the old ways are still remembered.

Life will carry on, regardless of the destruction wrought by the interlopers.

Rural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-1810.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0535.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-1647.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0025.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0934.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0982.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-1519.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-1865.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-2148.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0339.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-9597.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-9668.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-9742.jpgRural-Nfld_GREGLOCKE-0288.jpg

 

 Copyright Greg Locke 2015

 

Photographer and journalist Greg LockeGreg Locke is a founder and the managing partner, visual, of Facts and Opinions. He built the Facts and Opinions website, produces F&O’s photo essays, reports for Dispatches, writes and photographs Think magazine pieces, and contributes to the blogs.

Greg Locke has been a professional photographer, media producer and journalist for more than twenty-five years. Locke has covered politics, economics, energy issues, international development and civil conflicts in more than 30 countries including the fall of communism in eastern Europe in 1980′s, civil wars in the Balkans and the conflicts of central and east Africa in the 1990′s. He has published three books and has been a regular contributor to Canadian Business, Canadian Geographic, Time, Businessweek, Macleans and Forbes magazines.

For more about Locke’s work you can visit his website at www.greglocke.com

Related:

Two decades of disaster: Newfoundland’s fishery, by Greg Locke

It’s a cold foggy day in the fishing village of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. Just 20 kilometers south from downtown St. John’s, it feels much further. There is not much activity or many people out and around the few remaining wharfs and twine lofts that once were buzzing hives of fishing activity ringing the harbour. Today, there are just a few frozen tourists looking to make photos of a Newfoundland that doesn’t exist anymore.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Please support us with a contribution, below, of at least .27 per story, or a site pass for $1 per day or $20 per year — and by spreading the word.

 

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How to make seal flipper pie

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How to make seal flipper pie

By Greg Locke  
April, 2015

Goulds, Newfoundland — The spring seal hunting season opens this week on Canada’s Atlantic coast with hunters and fishermen from Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec and the Maritime provinces heading out onto the sea ice to hunt seals. Don’t worry folks, contrary to the fundraising lies and propaganda of many animal rights organizations seals are not an endangered species ….and no “baby” seals gave their lives for this story. In fact, real marine mammal scientists estimate there are 7.3 million seals in waters of the Labrador Sea north of the island of Newfoundland.

Fishermen making their way through the ice in Twillingate, Newfoundland on the way to hunt seals. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015

Fishermen making their way through the ice in Twillingate, Newfoundland on the way to hunt seals. Photo by Greg Locke © 2015 …click to enlarge.

Risking your life out on the ice floes is where our quest for the perfect seal flipper pie begins. You have to catch your seal.  It’s been going on for 400 years. Cod, whales and seals were the business and commerce that led to the English, French, Basque and Portuguese exploring and setting up colonies in the north west Atlantic.

Yes, it’s true, many Newfoundlanders cannot abide the sight, smell or taste of seal meat but this traditional dish has a long history in the fishing villages of the province come the spring of the year after a long lean winter. “March is the leanest month”, is the saying on Fogo Island. With winter supplies of food running out and the cod fishing season still a couple of months off, the seal hunt was essential in the subsistence economy.

Why the seals flippers you ask? Well, they are kind of like the chicken wings of seal meat. It was the one thing on the seal that was of little value to buyers. The high value fur, meat and seal oil was sold for cash and the fishermen kept the flippers for their pot.

In modern times stewing and BBQ have become popular and the chefs of the high end restaurants in St. John’s are finding new ways to present seal in Newfoundland nouvelle cuisine. Chef Todd Perrin at Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village is leading the charge of the newfound foodie culture.

But, today we’ll visit the kitchen at Bidgood’s Traditional Foods in Goulds, Newfoundland for their recipe of this popular meat pie.

You will need:

2 lb. (1 kg) seal meat
Water
2 tbsp. (25 mL) vinegar
3 slices fat-back pork
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 onion, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 turnip, cubed
2 tbsp. (25 mL) screech
3 cups ( 750 mL) water
Flour

Pastry:
1 cup (250 mL) flour
1-1/2 tsp. (7 mL) baking powder
1 tbsp. (15 mL) margarine or butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (125 mL) water

Preparation:

Place meat in a bowl and add water and vinegar to cover. Let sit for 1 hour; remove meat and dry well. Fry meat in fat-back pork, turning until browned on both sides. Add salt, pepper and onion. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Place carrot and turnip around meat. Add screech and 3 cups (750 mL) water. Cover and bake at 300F (150C) for 1 hour, adding mixture of flour and water to thicken if desired. Meanwhile, prepare pastry. Blend together flour, baking powder, and margarine. Stir in beaten egg and ½ cup (125 mL) water. Roll until ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Cover stew with pastry and bake for another 15 minutes.

ENJOY!!  …and see our slide show below.

 

© 2015 GREG LOCKE

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Artists call for ban on fracking near national park

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Gros Morne National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bonne Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. Photo by Greg Locke © 2014

Thirty two well known artists sent an open letter to Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper, and  Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Paul Davis, calling on them to establish a permanent buffer zone free of industrial activity around Gros Morn National Park  and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland.

The area has been the target of many unsuccessful oil exploration attempt over the past two decades. In 2012 a number of companies proposed to conduct hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) drilling right up to the park’s boundaries. Last summer, UNESCO called on Canada to do more to protect the site. There was much public opposition, and in 2013 the proposals failed. There is currently a moratorium on fracking while the provincial government reviews a commissioned industry study.

The artists include musician Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta, authors Lawrence Hill, Lisa Moore, Michael Crummy and Joseph Boyden, astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar, painter Mary Pratt, and actor Greg Malone, who said, “If we can’t protect the most brilliant places in our province and in our country, what are we doing?”

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Newfoundland’s Offshore Account

Hibernia offshore oil production platform at First Oil in 1997, 315km south east of St. John's on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Photo by Greg Locke © 1997

Hibernia offshore oil production platform at First Oil in 1997, 315km south east of St. John’s on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Photo by Greg Locke © 1997

Photo Essay by Greg Locke
December, 2015

St. John’s, Newfoundland

The few oilfields off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, in the Northwest Atlantic, are  small compared to the hundreds of producing wells in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, but the royalties not only kept Canada’s historically-impoverished and remote eastern province from bankruptcy, but propelled it into a Canadian economic hot spot. That is, until oil prices plummeted in the fall of 2014. Now, Newfoundland is learning the reality of having more than thirty percent of its revenue dependent on oil royalties.

Historically, the economy of Newfoundland has been based on resources and supporting services. Forestry, mining and, primarily, fishing, comprised the largest employers and sources of government revenue. As those industries died in the late 20th century, victims of global economics and the near-extinction of fish species like northern cod, oil was discovered on the shallow waters of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. But it is much more expensive to extract oil from hundreds of metres beneath the ocean than on land. It took more than twenty years after the discoveries for global oil prices to rise to a level that made it worthwhile for oil companies to commit to development and production.

The free-wheeling frontier exploration days of the 70’s and 80’s begun to pay off in 1997 when the Hibernia oil field, 315km southeast of the capital, St. John’s, went into production. The massive oil deposit, originally discovered by Chevron in 1979, would become the cornerstone of an economic dream for Canada’s poorest region.

It took a financial consortium of Chevron, Mobil Oil, Petro Canada, and the Canadian government, to make it happen. Partner Gulf Oil got cold feet and bailed out when global oil prices fell in the mid 90’s. Eventually, Petro-Canada would bring the Terra Nova oil field into production. Husky Energy would follow with its White Rose field. A fledgling local oil industry was born. All these producing fields were expanded in 2013-14.

Currently, Chevron and Norway’s Statoil are conducting exploration in the even more remote and deeper waters of the Flemish Pass, 450km east of St. John’s. The average cost to operate an offshore exploration rig is $1 million a day … and rising. Also, ExxonMobil is building a massive production rig in a Newfoundland ship yard for the fourth major oil discovery, Hebron. Hebron is estimated to have greater reserves and a longer lifespan than Hibernia which, after pumping for fifteen years, in now in production decline .

But as everyone in the boom and bust oil economy of Alberta has learned, when oil prices drop, oil companies pack up their trucks and rigs and leave. As Newfoundland prepares its 2015 budget, it is watching its offshore oil bank account dwindling. The province has already announced spending and hiring freezes. It remains to be seen if the tanking oil prices will continue, for how long, and whether or not Newfoundland’s oil-fired economy will flame out.

Gpgpg

 

© 2014 Greg Locke

 

Links to Newfoundland’s offshore oil industry:

Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board
Hibernia
Terra Nova (Suncor)
White Rose (Husky Energy)
Hebron (ExxonMobil Canada)
Statoil (Newfoundland operations)
Chevron Canada Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Essay by Greg Locke

 

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