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Make & Break Harbour

At the Stan Rogers Tribute last night, I sang Stan’s beautiful song “Make and Break Harbour”, also featuring my own little addition, sort of a contemporary “update” to the issues the song (written in 1976) so poignantly addresses.  Here are the words to my new section, as requested by several audience members…


37 years since this song was written

21 years since the cod moratorium

so much can change in a single generation

and we’re singing to keep them alive, to remember them:

the one-piston Make and Break motors, and the fishermen.

To remember the largest industrial closure in the nations’ history,

the department of oceans and fisheries’

failure to intervene before it was too late

their gross miscalculation, their tragic mistake,

vastly over-estimating the cod population

setting quotas that allowed too much to be taken

by the industrial trawlers, with quotas too high,

international driftnets forty miles wide

catching everything in their path on their insides.

Call it what you will, over fishing, a genocide

call it irreversible, call it all in the past,

but in 1992 when the cod stocks crashed

the moratorium was supposed to last

two years,  but it has never been lifted

because the cod stock has not regenerated

now the focus has shifted

to other fish that will soon be gone

now there’s a list as long as my arm

of fish we shouldn’t be taking from the sea

then fish we shouldn’t eat, full of PCB’s and mercury.


What is the song that we will sing to our children?

Once upon a time, there were fish in the ocean

Once upon a time, there were fish in the ocean.