Thursday, December 17, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More feedback on Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's visit to Prince Rupert, the Biotoxin office closes its doors and the city has six potential investors to consider for Watson Island, some of the items of note for Wednesday.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES MINISTER MEETS WITH LOCALS-- A look at Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's short stopover in Prince Rupert and some feedback from those few fishermen that waited outside DFO offices for a hopeful encounter with the federal minister.

The North Coast Biotoxin office is no more, with no further streams of funding available for the water quality program, the doors will close on the local office on December 31.

Local students and participants of the Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneurship Program outline the workings of their business efforts, which see Stevie Shaw and Marie Cunnigham work in local offices to clean out keyboards and electrical equipment.

A short information box is found on page three advising that the City has closed bids on the Watson Island site, with Dan Rodin, the City's Chief Financial Officer confirming that more than one offer has been submitted. Mr. Rodin must have been more chatty with the Northern View when they phoned for information, as they have a more indepth piece on the status of Watson Island posted to their website (see item below)

The Sports section for Wednesday features a look at the upcoming Blue Knuckle fishing derby planned for just after Christmas Day, it now will be known as the Marc "Dezi" Desautels Memorial Blue Knuckle Derby, with this years event set for December 27 with weigh ins planned for 5 - 6 pm.

(Daily News Archive links for December 16 )

The Northern View
Six proposals received for Watson Island sale -- As mentioned above, Shaun Thomas appears to have been more successful at extracting information from Mayor Jack Musallem and Dan Rodin of the city than was the Daily News. The weekly paper's website provides some further details of the six proposals received in the quest to purchase the Watson Island site from the city. (see article here)

Commercial Fishermen Disappointed by Shea Visit -- CFTK provides some background on the disappointment expressed by local fishermen after Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's short stop in Prince Rupert this week (see article here)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak is on Christmas break, a notice on their website advises that no new items are to be posted to their Daybreak site until January 4, 2010

Daily News, front page, headline story
Department of Fisheries minister meets with locals
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shivering outside the Canada Federal Building on Second Avenue West, about eight commercial fishermen hoped Monday to be warmed by the company of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea.

They were not disappointed as Shea, making her visit to Prince Rupert, opened her calendar for 30 minutes so that the fishermen could at least have a word with the minister on her fact finding mission to the North Coast.

“It went well,” said fisherman Clarence Nelson. “We were concerned that we wouldn’t get a chance to meet with her. And when they asked us to meet with her, we really weren’t prepared, but at least we got to.”

Carrying signs that criticized the composition of the meeting, fishermen joked that they would be street people unless something was done to help them out.

United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union local 37 representative Des Nobels said that, while the minister could use a little more education on West Coast fishing issues, he was happy that she at least made time for the fishermen.

“It went relatively well. We pointed out the need for her to come back as soon as her schedule would allow so that she can meet with commercial fishermen and discuss at full length what is going on here,” said Nobels.

The subject of a bail out for gillnet fishermen was also brought up, wondering if they could receive the kind of help East Coast lobster fishermen received last spring from the federal government.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans offered a $65 million federal program to help eastern Canadian fishermen hurt by this year’s lobster prices, which were the lowest in 20 years. Shea scoffed at the notion that the lobster fisheries received a bail out at all.

“I’m sure if you talked to people on the East Coast they wouldn’t have considered that a bail out,’ said Shea.

The meeting was initially open only to members of the Skeena Watershed Initiative Planning Group. One member, Joy Thorkelsen, said that the group was not the right composition for the meeting given that it was the North Coast resident fishermen and stakeholders that had invited and campaigned for the minister to come out to Prince Rupert in the first place.

The meeting itself comes after a flurry of bleak news about the 2010 fishing season, which included a poor forecast for the Skeena.

Shea said that the discussions at the meeting centered on the poor salmon returns, a need for more monitoring and scientific research on the Skeena watershed, and the consensus concern about industrial projects in the Northwest and their effects on the local environment.

“Commercial fishermen were well represented [by Thorkelsen],” said Shea. “I am grateful for all the people that showed up today. They all brought meaningful input for the West Coast fishery.”

The discussion also included whether there needs to be a separate judicial inquiry into the 2009 Skeena salmon run. Shea would not say whether that was appropriate nor did she want to prejudice the Fraser River inquiry planned for next year.

“While we can’t speculate on the outcome of the inquiry, it could have some fall out as it relates the Skeena,” said Shea. “At the end of the day, the DFO is responsible for fish and fish habitat. We need to make decisions based on science and we will always take a cautious approach.”

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