Fishermen's blockade prevents survey ship from getting out of Pictou Harbour
In a showdown in Pictou Harbour Monday morning, a fleet of fishing boats forced a survey vessel back to port.
Close to 30 fishing boats surrounded a small survey vessel tied to the wharf in Pictou and the attempt to survey the area for Northern Pulp's new pipeline might be shutting down for several days.
“They made it out to the mouth of the harbour,” said fisherman Darryl Bowen.“We were all just sitting there. They couldn't get through, so they just turned around and came back in.”
The survey boat has been hired by Northern Pulp to design a route for an effluent pipe into the Northumberland Strait.
When the boat leaves the wharf, fishermen quickly gather and block it because they don't want any pipe in the strait and neither does First Nations Chief Andrea Paul.
“I have no problems being a part of this,” said Chief Andrea Paul of Pictou Landing First Nation.“I'm very excited to be here today. Really proud to be here as a supporter.”
Actress Ellen Page has also become a supporter, using social media to issue critical tweets against the mill and the government.
“It's also just nice to know that she is concerned for her home province and for our area of Pictou County,” said Progressive Conservative MLA Karla MacFarlane, who represents the riding of Pictou West.
In a written statement, Northern Pulp once again says safety of their employees is top priority and they will work with authorities as situations arise. Asked what it will take for RCMP or the Coast Guard to be called, an official would only respond that monitoring will continue.
By mid-afternoon, with bad weather moving in, it appeared the survey boat crew was packing up and leaving the area.
That's okay with the fishermen.
“You know, if they want to leave, we'll certainly let them leave,” Bowen said. “You know, they'll probably have boats following them right down the Strait, but you know, if they're leaving, we'll let them go.”
Both sides will be keeping an eye on the harbour itself, which usually freezes over just before Christmas.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.