Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crab lines still posing problems for BC Ferries

With two weekends of sailings put in the cancellation box last month, BC Ferries is still finding that crab traps are posing problematic to their plans of transportation from the Charlottes to Prince Rupert.

As recently as this past Friday, the Northern Adventure once again picked up some traps in it's propellers, despite the efforts of Area A crab fishermen to clear the path for the ferry.

With the problem apparently not resolved as of yet, BC Ferries plans on installing rope guards to the ferry in a bid to protect the vessel and its propellers from the ravages of entanglement.

The Queen Charlotte Island Observer has the latest developments in the situation posted to their website.

Crab lines still a problem, says BC Ferries
Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Northern Adventure continues to tangle with lines from crab traps, says BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall, despite repeated requests to crab fishermen to remove their gear from the ferry route.

Ms Marshall said the ferry picked up more lines on the Friday night crossing to Prince Rupert, and on an earlier trip last week.

BC Ferries started several weeks ago sending divers down to inspect the Northern Adventure every time it docks in Prince Rupert and cut away rope and floats if necessary.

Ms Marshall said this week that BC Ferries will be installing new rope guards on the ferry to help protect the propellers and shafts.

Meanwhile, Dan Edwards of the Area A Crab Association said crab fishermen are doing everything they can to get their gear out of the way. The 52 licence holders have around 35,000 traps in the water.

"The guys have really made an effort to pull their traps," he said. "They're not very happy about it either. It's $300 for every trap they lose."

Mr. Edwards said some of the crab fishermen moved their traps to the McIntyre Bay area when it opened last week, which should lessen the amount of gear in Hecate Strait.

He also said that the whole issue, which has received province-wide media attention over the past couple of weeks, has left the fishermen somewhat frustrated.

"They're definitely angry about being painted as irresponsible bad guys here," Mr. Edwards said. "They feel that they've been really proactive."

The fishermen were the ones who had the idea last summer of meeting with BC Ferries to figure out a designated route for the ferry which could be left clear, he said.

The fishermen have other challenges as well.

"It hasn't been a great season for these guys so far," Mr. Edwards said. "The phrase I've heard is poor to mediocre."

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