Saturday, June 05, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Friday, June 4, 2010)

Transport Canada begins it enforcement of new regulations on the water, a big day at the Port as the largest vessel yet makes a port call and Gary Coons wants the province to bring a stop to Enbridge's Kitimat plans, some of the items of interest for Friday.

Daily News, front page, headline story
MTO TIGHTENING UP ENFORCEMENT OF NEW LICENSING REGULATIONS-- A new licensing system for the coast of British Columbia is in effect and Transport Canada is enforcing those changes which require a variety of certifications for those that work on the water.

Extra Foods closure in the Rupert Square gets a bit of attention in the Daily news, though the story carries no headline nor is it included on the papers website. The item outlines the recent closure and some of the background behind both positions. Sharp eyed readers of our blog read about the closure earlier this week with our post on the path that lead to Tuesday's final day of operations.

4,000 plants need to be planted and the Prince Rupert Garden Club is looking for a few volunteers to help get them into the Sunken Gardens, the plant a thon takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the Gardens behind the court house.

The sports section features previews of the auto clubs plans for Seafest as well as details on the Seafest 3 on 3 basketball tournament. And for good measure the Daily begins it's preview of next week's start of the World Cup.

(Daily News Archives for Friday, June 4, 2010)

MTO tightening up enforcement of new licensing regulations
Sunken Gardens needs volunteers
Flight attendants have voted to strike
Lax Kw’alaams community members upset
Ministry for the sailor-man

The Northern View
Largest ship yet calls on Prince Rupert as Fairview Terminal traffic grows
Details of the maiden voyage of the COSCO Malaysia which called on Prince Rupert for the first time on June 4th. (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Significant occasion for the PRPA
CFTK also has coverage of the Cosco Malaysia's arrival in town (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Coons Demands Government "Just Say No" to Enbridge 
The NDP MLA for the North Coast wants the provincial government to bring an end to the bid by Enbridge to build a pipeline and terminal in Kitimat (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Salmon Study Says Diversity Key to Fishery Survival
A study, published in the journal Nature and based on the sockeye fishery at Bristol Bay, Alaska, says maintaining diverse salmon populations stabilizes the fisheries that depend on them. It's a collection of data and opinion that local advocates say could help solve the skeena fishery crisis (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC, Daybreak North 
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
MTO tightening up enforcement of new licensing regulations 
By George T. Baker 
Staff Writer 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, June 4, 2010

Transport Canada is enforcing the new licensing system for the B.C. Coast.

New regulations for vessels on the seas that are meant to make the ocean safer for all who rely on it for their livelihood is being questioned by some and applauded by others.

The New Contraventions Act recently passed by both the Federal and Provincial Governments means the RCMP and other Federal and Provincial Government officers will now start to board Commercial Vessels and Fishing Vessels and demand to see the certificates of the Master and crew.

This new system is thought to bring safety to the waters, but some fishermen see the new licensing system as punitive and disrespectful of the average experience of the current commercial fishing fleet.

“Given the age of most guys skippering boats today, if they haven’t learned how to run them in 30 years of experience then I don’t think a ticket is going to make a hec of a lot of difference,” said Bob Burkosky, the captain of gillnet boat BC Maid II. Burkosky was speaking of the shine of silver on most of the North Coast commercial fishing fleet, with few deckhands below the age of 40 and even fewer captains.

“Having said that, there are some good stability courses that have been developed in the last few years that are certainly worthwhile, but I don’t think guys should have to be paying out of pocket under duress to do that sort of thing,” said Burkosky.

Every Master of a commercial vessel, be it tugboat, water taxi or cargo vessel must have a master license and every crewmember a marine emergency duties certificate. Every operator of a Fishboat 13 metres or over must have a Master Certificate and by 2016, every Master of a Fishboat of any size will need to have a Master License.

Every crewmember must have a Marine Emergency Duties certificate.

Michael Calli, owner of Capp’s Marine Education, a company that specializes in training in marine navigation, said fishermen are alarmed that they have to do this.

“Some of the guys don’t have the licensing yet,” said Calli. If fishermen are caught on the water without license, boat owner/operators are subject to a $9,000 fine.

If the boat owner and operator and separate, then the fee levied is divided as $6,000 for the operator and $3,000 for the operator.

Any vessel that is not a commercial vessel – charter boats and commercial fishers – that is carrying passengers needs to have, as of November 7, 2009, a small vessel operator proficiency certificate. There must also be someone on the boat who holds the marine basic first aid certificate.

Calli thought some fishermen might risk not getting licensed, but Burkosky didn’t think that number would be huge. In his opinion, the risk for a commercial fisherman attempting to fish during a three-day opening, getting caught by an RCMP officer and pulled off the water is too expensive to take a chance on. Getting out to fishing grounds can be costly enough with crew and fuel expenses high enough that an added cost doesn’t make sense, he added.

The new requirements have driven up demand for course training.

Bob Kitching, President and Managing Associate of CE International Consultants Ltd, which teaches classes in the Prince Rupert area, said that his company has put 100-to-150 people through its programs this year. Normally, the company would train 40.

Kitching said the highest proportion of people killed each year out on the open waters is commercial fishermen. So while experience should count for something, he didn’t believe that Transport Canada had placed undue requirements on vessel operators.

“One can always make oneself unpopular with one’s clients by saying that it is probably long overdue. But I think it is a good thing. One can question if the appropriateness of the course is right, whether it should be easier or harder, those are things that one can debate from now until the cows come home,” opined Kitching.

Kitching added that the issue is the way seafaring has changed over the past two decades. Where once fishermen were intimately tied to the boat they worked from, electronics have displaced that connection, meaning the younger fishermen he’s met have not become safer on the seas.

 “Fishermen over 45 started fishing before there were electronics around and so they were bloody-good seamen. They fished from a boat that they knew how to operate from.

 “Quite honestly, the younger guys are bloody-good fishermen, but as far as they are concerned the boat is a platform from which they can catch fish and awful lot of them don’t know a heck of a lot about boats,” said Kitching.

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