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Emergency Funding Provides for West Point Harbour Dredging

Posted on July 25, 2016

By Eric McCarthy, Journal Pioneer

Land-based dredging in April enabled boats to navigate the West Point Harbour entrance, but sand has returned and now emergency funding has been approved so that the channel and entrance can be cleared before lobster season opens.

Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey said a barge is set to arrive at West Point on Tuesday. The dredging, which will commence immediately, is expected to take two weeks to complete, finishing up just in time for the opening of the fall lobster fishery.

That’s good timing, says Harbour Authority chair Paul Wood, suggesting boats loaded with lobster gear would not be able to get out of West Point without it.

Land-based dredging was carried out at West Point at the end of April to clear the harbour’s sand-clogged mouth.

Wood said the mouth is already clogged up nearly as badly and the channel is shallow out as far as the marker buoys.

Word that funding has been approved for emergency dredging will be welcomed by West Point fishermen, Wood said, acknowledging he’s been getting calls from fishermen concerned about their safety.

“Is there going to be any dredging done? We need dredging done. We’re not going to be able to get out unless we have dredging,” he said, quoting some of the comments he’s been receiving.

“At the end of the day, fishermen have to have a safe entrance to their harbour,” Morrissey commented. “My concern was I did not want to take a chance that the water may not be adequate on setting day and you could have an accident. It’s too late then.”

He acknowledged Wood’s insistence that the channel needed to be dredged, and said he was able to convince Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc of the seriousness of the situation.

Morrissey estimates the job could cost close to $200,000.

But the MP added a long-term solution needs to be developed so that dredging isn’t needed every few years. “Ever since the Province stopped them from excavating some sand from near the harbour on the beach side this has become a problem every three to four years,” he said.

Wood agreed, indicating the channel was last dredged just three years ago.

“Without sand mining, we will have to come up with an alternate plan,” he suggested.

Wood recalled the provincial government put a stop to the sand mining from the beach to the west of the harbour because of concerns it was eroding sand from further down the beach. He said the thought was the eroding point between the harbour and the lighthouse would re-establish if mining was stopped. That hasn’t happened, he said.

“The sand now is right out to the end (of the harbour’s west wall). Before, it was up behind the baithouses. Now it’s out to the end of the harbour and that’s why we’re having problems. Now it’s starting to go around the harbour.

“I don’t know how long (the dredging) will hold this time when we get it done. There seems to be a lot more sand coming around.”

Wood said he wishes the point would have reestablished, as that might have caused drifting sand to stay further out to sea, away from the entrance.

Source: Journal Pioneer

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