25 November 2013
This overseas territory is often overlooked on lists of France’s “old” DOM-TOM, yet it’s of major importance in more ways than one.
First of all, we’re constantly told that France’s maritime influence lies in our overseas territories, territories which give France the second largest maritime surface in the world. We took advantage of the schooner’s passage in the region to visit St Pierre, and bring it out of the almost total indifference. St Pierre-and-Miquelon is the only French territory in North America, and the only one located near the passage of the Canadian northwest – especially important for us those of who just returned from the Arctic expedition.
St-Pierre is also and above all the unfortunate symbol of one of the biggest socio-economic and environmental catastrophes of our generation. The stock of Newfoundland cod was decimated when modern fleets from other countries (some very far away) came to plunder the area, quadrupling the volume caught in less than 10 years in the 1960s. This excess led to the disappearance of the Atlantic cod from this area 20 years later.
Ignorance about the impact of our actions: “We didn’t know.” Just as we don’t know the real impact of deep trawling that is currently in the news today. Supposedly we can learn from mistakes. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here.
Finally, the future of St-Pierre-et-Miquelon depends on its ability to rebuild a sustainable economy, most likely around the sea, fishing, or aquaculture for example. To do this, Tara Expeditions must encourage the necessary studies of local ecosystems, in order to lay the foundations for sustainable local development.
This is our hope for St Pierre – a community of 6 000 people – who just gave Tara and her crew an incredible reception. It’s been a long time since we received such a warm welcome !
Thank you, and bravo to the people of St Pierre. We are proud of this little piece of France!
Roman Troublé, secretary general of Tara Expeditions