‘Major damage’: East Coast fishing industry feels impact of post-tropical storm – Canada News

The impact of post-tropical storm Fiona on Atlantic Canada’s fishing industry is still being assessed, but Osborne Burke already knows how serious it could be.

Burke, general manager of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries in Neils Harbour, Nova Scotia, says it will cost up to $2 million to fix the high-tech seafood processing operation, which has been torn apart by high winds and a destructive storm surge last Saturday.

“We have significant damage,” he said in an interview on Friday, adding that no one was injured. “We were in the foreground.”

Burke said the co-op, in operation since 1956, was well prepared for the storm. Staff halted production last Thursday to give them time to set up barricades and get the fishing boats out of the water. But the howling winds and 2.5 meter storm surge were too much for the building.

“It overwhelmed the facility,” Burke said. “The wall facing the ocean, he completely destroyed that wall.”

The cooperative, which buys a variety of seafood from seven ports, received a $3 million upgrade just 18 months ago. His crab cooker alone was worth $1 million. With annual sales of $50 million, the factory ships its products across Canada, the United States, Europe, China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

“Everything was pretty much destroyed in there,” Burke said. “It’s hard to imagine, considering it looked as clean as a hospital a week ago.”

Meanwhile, significant damage to fishing vessels and small craft harbors was reported in eastern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. Power outages made it difficult to assess damage along the north coast of Nova Scotia.

The Gulf Nova Scotia Bonafide Fishermen’s Association says small fishing communities across the province are still without power or internet service, making it difficult for the group to assess the storm’s impact on all of its members.

Earlier this week, the Federal Fisheries Department said five of the region’s 180 ports were no longer operational, 99 others were partially functioning and 20 would need further assessment. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray said she expects the number of unusable harbors to increase as inspections continue.

Gordon Beaton, vice-president of the Nova Scotia wing of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said he had received information that a large gear shed in Cribbons Point, Nova Scotia, had the roof snatch.

“It flew out and landed on some guys’ boats,” said Beaton, whose union represents more than 1,300 inshore fishers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. “Pretty extensive repairs are needed for some guys’ ships.”

The breakwater at Arisaig, Nova Scotia, on the north coast of Nova Scotia, was badly damaged, he said, adding that there are reports that those now fishing in Lobster Fishing Area 25 are struggling to retrieve their traps from the Northumberland Strait.

“There’s a lot of gear loss,” Beaton said, adding that the rich lobster fishing grounds are between northern Nova Scotia, eastern New Brunswick and southern PEI. -of Prince Edward Island.

He said the storm had caused such a commotion in the strait that many lobster traps had been detached from their buoys or buried by heaving sand at the bottom. “Even if they can find the traps, the ropes aren’t enough to pull them up,” Beaton said. “Sometimes they’re so full and stuck to the bottom that they break.”

In PEI, the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association continues to collect damage reports.

“Our captains have done everything possible to prevent and minimize damage to their fleets, but as all islanders know, this has been a storm like no other,” the association said on its Facebook page.

The damage to Prince Edward Island’s Stanley Bridge on the island’s north shore was so severe it drew national attention when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed up for a brief visit on Tuesday.

In Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said Friday the damage to the island’s fishing operations was severe.

“If you’re making a living on the water and you’re going through the hurricane that we went through with this storm surge, there’s very little that’s been unaffected on the water,” King said. during a press conference. “There is a lot of damage to our bays and estuaries all over Prince Edward Island”

He said the north shore of the island suffered the brunt of the hurricane-force winds. And he added that the storm had dealt a blow to the province’s lobster, mussel and oyster industries.

“It’s, quite frankly, a mess,” he said. “We are trying to work with our growers and processors to find a way to overcome the initial shock and find a way forward.”

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