Sunday, 6 December 2015

Q and As – December

Marine Traffic: Previously, I mentioned that Marine Traffic stations were being closed by the former federal government, which included the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. A reader got me in touch with Allan Hughes, President of Unifor Local 2182 – Marine Communicators Officers and he brought me up to date on the issue. I pass along what he has to say.

Traffic, like aircraft control at an airport, runs 24 hours a day, keeping boat traffic updated on current and upcoming ship position – all ships over 20 metres. As industry runs 24 hours a day, it is in the dark that you see the great benefit in knowing where everyone is. No one is out at night who doesn’t belong there, hence pleasure craft operate only in the day. Radar is mandatory on boats.

Traffic also tracks and relays communications for boats in distress. All sport fishers have Traffic to thank when things turn ugly during our trips. The Leviathan II tragedy off Tofino is an example of the kind of situation Traffic could have handled. The problem is that the Ucluelet Traffic station was closed, and that closure included the weather from Amphritite Point. When you boat on the west coast, knowing current water conditions is vital.

Hughes has this to say: “In 2012, the Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services had 22 centres across Canada. In May 2012, the Harper government announced, via C-38, that it would consolidate centres across Canada, on the BC Coast, that meant the closure of the centres in Vancouver, Ucluelet and Comox. In April 2015, Ucluelet was closed and consolidated into Prince Rupert. In May 2015, Vancouver was closed and consolidated into Victoria.”

When my main engine went kaput in the fog south of Discovery Island many years ago and my kicker couldn’t outpace the tide, it was Traffic Vancouver that picked up my distress call and sent the Volunteer Unit from Oak Bay Marina to tow me in.

Comox is scheduled to close in the spring, taking with it the Cape Lazo weather report. This leaves the entire coast in the hands of only two stations: Victoria and Prince Rupert. Local knowledge is thus very compromised, on a coast that has 25,000 km from Tswassen to Portland Canal, and help could not be on the way. The Leviathan II situation was luckily spotted by Ahousaht fishermen and local First Nation responders saved many lives. The situation should not have happened, but if Traffic is closed, the reality is that it can mean people die.

“The union representing MCTS officers has been driving the campaign to stop the closures, Comox, the last centre left to close, has a chance if public criticism is brought to bear on the new government. The former Conservative government turned a blind ear to the cries against the cuts to the Coast Guard in BC.”

The Kitsilano Coast Guard station is being reopened by the new federal government. You might like to send Justin Trudeau and DFO Minister Hunter Tootoo a note of support for Comox, etc. It could be your rear end that is saved.

The Unifor site that has all the news releases of the past few years is:

Pacific Salmon Foundation: “In 2015, our donors helped support 33 projects engaging 33 different partners in the Strait of Georgia. In the weeks leading up to year-end we will send you highlights of these projects. That's because this year-end we're asking supporters to make a tax-receiptable year-end donation to support efforts to restore a wild Coho and Chinook fishery in the Strait through our Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. If you donate by midnight on December 31, 2015, your donation will be doubled through our matching fund. Also, you will be entered to win a hand-carved First Nations artist proof reel.”

The value of the fishery is reasonably estimated as a $200 Million shot in the arm for sport fishing revenues.

South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition:  The pre-Christmas social occurs Tuesday, December 8, 7PM, at the Esquimalt Anglers Clubhouse, 1101, Munroe Street. In addition to the social, an update on SFAB activity regarding local waters will be given. Also, Jerrod Pinder will provide info on the South Island Aggregate’s Shawnigan toxic soil dump and possible effects on Shawnigan Creek and its coho enhancement project.

If you would like to pay your annual SVIAC dues, you may do so at: This is a good thing to support, as it works on our behalf for local salmon fisheries.

Watershed Watch Newsletter: This ENGO puts out a wide-ranging, weekly newsletter of salmon and fisheries information. You can ask for it here: Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Living Oceans: also an ENGO, has an update on several fish farms issues: lice that are out of control as much as 10 times the limit of 3 per fish; data on escaped Atlantics in identified rivers in BC (this is something that previous, conventional data suggested is not happening); and hiring someone to take on the file, as well as push the new Trudeau government to finally undertake enacting the Cohen Commission 75 recommendations that the previous government simply ignored.

You can request the newsletter at:<>. The site is:

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