Fifteen years after the cod moratorium, Newfoundland and Labrador's groundfisheries show little sign of rebounding. An exodus of industry, business, and people has brought dramatic change to the outports. Yet the fishery - the international market for shellfish, especially - still dominates the rural economy and could act as an engine of revitalization.
The shellfisheries are complex and expensive; both the resource and that markets are highly sensitive. To make this opportunity come together requires co-ordination at the regional level between unions, municipalities, companies, investors, and government.
In the Regional Economic Development Boards (REDBs) the province already has in place a structure that could bring about that communication, planning, and partnership. First set up in 1996, REDBs have struggled for attention amongst the fishery's aggressive stakeholders. A big socio-economic mandate and a small budget with which to address it have also undercut performance. The achievements of REDBs like Mariner Opportunities Resource Network Inc. and Nordic Economic Development Corporation, by contrast, show how essential the intermediary role is to the future of and rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Having recently shed their social mandate, and gained an important ally in the province's municipalities, the REDBs are now more capable than ever of playing a key role in CED in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.