Friday, October 16, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Thursday, October 15, 2009

City Council comes to the support of the gillnet fleet, Rupert is a Child Friendly city and the School District has a plan for H1N1, some of the items in the news cycle for Thursday.

Daily News, front page, headline story
CITY COUNCIL FULLY SUPPORTS LETTER TO MINISTER SHEA-- City council has fallen in behind councillor Joy Thorkelson and her motion to have council write to Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in a quest to seek assistance for the gillnet fleet many of whom face bankruptcy after a horrendous fishing season (Daily News Archives Article )

It's official, Prince Rupert is a now a child friendly city. One of councillor Kathy Bedard's ongoing interests has received an official proclamation, as the city accepted and read her proclamation at this weeks council meeting. The proclamation reads "the City of Prince Rupert will strive to ensure that neighbourhoods are planned and maintained in a manner that provides safe, secure and supportive environments for families and children. We will strive for the equity of outcomes for all of Prince Rupert's children by supporting and adopting policies that promote economic and social justice." (Daily News Archives Article )

School District 52 has a Pandemic Response Plan in place now, a twelve page document that will outline the response of the School District to any increase in the occurrence of the H1N1 virus.
Developed by nine members of the district's administration with the consultation of Dr. David Bowering the Chief Medical Officer for Northern health, it's designed to provide information to the situation as it exists today, but not to underestimate the potential of the virus.

Among some of the recommendations in the plan, the need to keep children who are sick at home, and away from members of the residence who are not sick. Have them drink plenty of liquids, juice, soups etc. If residents don't have a family doctor to consult, they are urged to contact the 811 Health hotline for further guidance (Daily News Archives Article )

NDP MP Nathan Cullen outlined his thoughts on the HST debate, suggesting that the controversial tax could be the tipping point in bringing down the Conservative Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Daily News Archive Article)

Grade eight boys volleyball at PRSS and a review of the weekend's PRMBA action were the featured items of the Thursday sports page.

Northern View
Councillor concerned many fishermen face bankruptcy after dismal season-- The Northern View was the first to post details of Councillor Joy Thorkelson's concerns over the fate of the regions gillnetters, after his past summers limited opportunities to fish (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Coast Tsimshian Export Logs-- Details on the recent agreement between Coast Tsimshian Resources and Chinese interests in the shipping of raw logs to China (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Lax Kw'alaams Nominations-- In a little over a month elections will take place for Chief Councillors and council of Lax Kw'alaams, TV 7 provided a few of the names up for nomination for the November 17th election. (see article here)
Daily News,Front page, headline story
City council fully supports letter to Minister Shea
By Monica Lamb-Yorski

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gillnetters on B.C.'s West Coast have been hit hard, said City Councillor Joy Thorkelson at Tuesday night's regular council meeting.

When Thorkelson made a motion, stating, "I would like City Council to write to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to find some method to help gillnetters on this coast so they won't be bankrupted and lose their boats," she received full approval from the council and was encouraged to gather letters of support from other communities like Port Edward, Masset and Queen Charlotte City.

Commercial fishing brought seven to eight million dollars into the local economy in as many weeks, Thorkelson reported. The West Coast saw one of the largest runs of pink salmon in years.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada policy doesn't allow gillnetters to catch pink salmon, only sockeye, she explained.

"There was a huge pink salmon escapement and the largest coho escapement in many years, probably 20, and the steelhead escapement was healthy, too."

Recent reports suggest that on average, gillnetters caught 414 fish, which amounts to $3,000 each in sales.

From that $3,000, the fishermen have to pay a $650 commercial fishing license, a $65 personal license, moorage and gas.

Thorkelson met with the Minister of Fisheries on September 12 and had a chance to talk about North Coast fishery issues.

"She made no commitment, but expressed concerns. I told her our owner/operators are going to be bankrupt," Thorkelson said, adding that she inquired whether there could be any assistance from the federal government.

"She told me to ask the provincial government."

Thorkelson also asked about EI rules and whether they can be changed, but was told that wasn't the minister's area of jurisdiction.

As a point of reference, Fisheries and Oceans released a statement this past September as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan. It said that on June 10, 2009, the Government of Canada committed $65 million to support the lobster industry on the East Coast and specified that $15 million would provide immediate one-time assistance to those fishers most affected by the global economic downturn and resulting collapse of lobster prices.

The remaining $50 million was allocated to Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures over the next five years to help the lobster industry improve its economic prosperity and long-term sustainability.

"The longer term assistance will help ensure a more sustainable future for lobster fishers," said Minister Shea. "We have developed the program criteria in consultation with industry, First Nations and the provinces to ensure spending is accountable and targeted."

"The prices for lobster have fallen from six to four dollars a pound so it's subsidizing a drop in price, not a failed fishery," commented Thorkelson.

"Certainly gilnetters are just as bad off. We need to write to the minister and express our concern that the department isn't offering a gillnet subsidy on this coast."

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