Salvage of stuck ship mired in red tape: N.S. fishermen
The MV Miner ran aground off Scatarie Island, a provincially designated wilderness management area, on Sept. 20, 2011.
Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012 3:42PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 3, 2012 5:27PM ADT
Fishermen in Nova Scotia say red tape is preventing their boats from being part of a major salvage operation off the east coast of Cape Breton.
The MV Miner salvage project has also missed its planned start date, and with the lobster season winding down, fishermen in the area were hoping they would be hired to help with the salvage of the stuck ship off Scatarie Island.
Instead, it seems many are caught up in bureaucratic rules and regulations.
“There’s probably 50 boats out of Main-a-Dieu and as far as I know, they haven’t qualified anybody,” says fisherman Kevin Spencer.
Two months ago, the province said New York-based Bennington Group would dismantle the wreck, which ran aground on Scatarie Island while being towed for scrapping in Turkey last September.
Spencer says that while lobstermen and their boats are licensed to fish, they don’t meet Transport Canada’s regulations for such work as ferrying salvage crews or supplies to and from the wreck.
“Do I think my vessel is capable? Yes I do,” he says. “But do I have certain things that the Department of Transport says I need? No I don’t. I don’t have a master’s certificate.”
Fisherman Ken Wadden is frustrated by the application process, saying it’s nothing more than a bureaucratic roadblock to his participation in the salvage project.
“They sent us back another bunch of papers, as you can see,” Wadden tells CTV News as he wields a lengthy application form. “I carry people everyday for lobster fishing. What’s the big deal? This is something the fishermen want to get cleaned up.”
Preliminary onsite work on the derelict bulk carrier was supposed to begin in mid-June, but other than routine inspections at the site, local fishermen say there has been no activity at the site.
“We do periodic checks, just to see what conditions are,” explains Seward Benoit of the Canadian Coast Guard.
Without explanation, the salvage company cancelled a meeting with local fishermen that had been planned for last week.
The local spokesperson for the Bennington Group did not return messages or email from CTV News, regarding the start of the salvage operation.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Randy MacDonald