[Related: Photos of Miss Comeau tugboat helping the Princess of Acadia leave the Digby ferry terminal]
Current mechanical issues plaguing ferry service between Digby, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick, now compounded by weather conditions, could be disastrous to the regional lobster industry and strongly underline the case for immediate replacement with a new vessel on the service as soon as possible, says the Chair of the Bay of Fundy Marine transportation Associan BFMTA)
“This couldn’t come at a more crucial and inconvenient time, particularly for our local lobster industry”, said the BFMTA’s Jim Thurber.
The Impact being felt at this time of the year could be catastrophic Thurber declared.
“The impending blow to this season’s market potential could eventually be measured in millions of dollars to the regional fishery from Shelburne right around to Annapolis”, says Thurber.
And it could spell long term financial hardship for many small companies he added.
“What we have here today is a perfect economic storm comprised of mechanical unreliability, adverse weather and peak market demand”, Thurber explained.
The BFMTA Chair stressed that this is a critical point in the season, and that the lobster industry has an extremely narrow window of opportunity to get its product to market.
“After the Christmas and New Year’s period they’re not going to be able to move nearly as much product because this is the most lucrative time of the year for the industry”, he pointed out, “And given the stresses already in place because of low prices and high catches this is causing incredible anxiety within the fishing community”.
Thurber said that this situation further confirms the message the BFMTA has been stressing for the past number of years, that the current vessel has reached the end of its reliable service capacity and the industry sees the solution is to have the aged ferry replaced with a newer, more reliable vessel to allow them to continue to be able to conduct the business that is the driving force behind the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia
“The fishery is undeniably the vital commercial backbone of this area, and the proper and efficient maintence of service on this “marine highway” is fundamental to the continuance of the area’s economic well being”, he said.
The BFMTA intends to use this situation as one more compelling reason to press hard with federal and provincial governments to find a definitive solution, and soon, to what they say is an immediate, frustrating and reoccurring problem.