The weekend debate over the fate of the filleting tables at Rushbrook Floats continued into a new week, as the Port Edward Harbour Authority presented their side of the story. It's a situation that first appeared in print last week and highlighted some of the congestion and issues of the floats.
The Harbour Authority’s side of the story was presented in Monday’s paper.
DECISION TO GIVE FILLETING TABLES THE CHOP DEFENDED
Limited space as well as concerns about liability and safety played a role
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, July 16, 2007
Pages one and three
The Port Edward Harbour Authority’s general manager, Richard Hill, is defending his decision to order the removal of the fish-cleaning tables from the Rushbrook Floats dock.
“Since the first table was put in several years ago, we’ve had ever-increasing difficulties with it,” said Hill in a statement to the Daily News.
“First, it created a tremendous amount of congestion. We’ve been getting more and more complaints that people who need to use the site for their business haven’t had access to that particular part of the harbour. In addition to that, the site was becoming increasingly loaded with fish frames, where fish have been dressed and the carcass and guts have been deposited right inside the harbour at that location.”
Not only was his decision influenced by three complaints, but by the concern that his organization has become legally responsible for activities beyond their scope of management.
“In addition, that particular site started to be a more focused site for charters to board and disembark charter people,” said Hill. “These are people who may or may not have a lot of boating experience and certainly little exposure to a federal commercial fishing harbour. So we had people that were ill-dressed, ill-fitted with footwear, people who were older trying to ascend and descend the very steep ramps that take people in and out of the harbour. We had a number of complaints about slips and falls, and combined with all the other things, it was just becoming such a liability for us. Finally, I had to make a decision that we weren’t actually improving a situation, we were actually creating an ever-increasingly larger one.”
For several years now, the Chatham Sound Charter Boat Association, the organization that donated the cleaning tables, has been in talks with the Port Edward Harbour Authority to find a solution to problems at Rushbrook Floats. And although Rushbrook is technically a commercial harbour, it has been speculated by some locals that due to the drop in the size of the commercial fleets, that without the charter fleet moorage, Rushbrook Floats might not have the money to continue operating.
“There’s not a lot of docking space in Prince Rupert, not a lot of moorage for pleasure craft and/or charter boats. And that’s one spot we’re able to tie up,” said Margo Cullen, president of Chatham Sound Charter Boat Association. “We want to work with the people at the Harbour Authority, because it’s an optimal place for our members and visitors to come. And because sport fishing is so viable in Prince Rupert, it’s important that we have them and that we work together to maintain them and that the docks are safe and clean.”
“We’re working hard to see if we can come to a resolution,” said Cullen.
The problems at Rushbrook Floats are ones that local politicians recognize have been ongoing for years, and are not necessarily problems that come with easy solutions.
“I’ve talked to the Port Edward Harbour Authority and I understand completely why they’re saying they need the tables out of there,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.
“Obviously, this is a huge industry between the sport and the commercial fishers, and we need to work with these operators to find some solutions down there. We’ve got serious work to do on the waterfront not only for the sport and commercial fishers, but also the recreational fishers and those who come form the villages. So this is just another prompt to get to work on that waterfront.”
While it is hoped by all that a solution to the fish-cleaning table dispute can be reached in a timely manner, the larger issue of harbour space and management is one that may take more time to resolve.
“I have a primary responsibility to manage the harbour, to keep it safe, to keep it clean, and to allow for the free access to the harbour by the commercial fishing fleet,” Hill said.
“The sport fishing operators that are using the facility to do business in, they’re paying a fee to moor their boats and have some services provided to them, like power and some water. But the fee does not include the business activities that they take part in, like the mooring and disembarking of paying customers that are paying to them. They don’t pay any extra fees for that and they don’t necessarily have the ability to protect the Harbour Authority from lawsuits if there are slips and falls, whether there’s a fault attached to it or not.