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Government reverses stance on dredging two N.B. harbours

Fishermen in Tabusintac say the channel to enter the harbour is narrow and needs to be dredged.

Posted on April 24, 2024

After previously postponing the dredging of two harbours in northeastern New Brunswick, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has announced it will now go ahead with the projects.

A statement from DFO said that Acadie-Bathurst MP Serge Cormier was in Tabusintac to announce the government’s decision to dredge at MacEachern’s Point and Pointe-Sapin.

“This is critical infrastructure to local economies and we need to repair, maintain or build new infrastructure to make it more efficient,” Cormier said in the statement.

“By dredging the wharves at MacEachern’s Point (Tabusintac) and Pointe-Sapin, we are ensuring the safety of fish harvesters and their crew members.”

The government says the project will start this year and take three years to complete.

Acadie-Bathurst MP Serge Cormier was in Tabusintac on Monday to announce the decision to dredge the harbours. (Radio-Canada)

The decision comes after local fishermen has complained and staged protests over DFO’s previous decision to postpone the project.

Fishermen said the channels needed to be dredged because they are dangerous. Three fishermen died off MacEachern’s Point in 2013 after their boat ran into a sandbar and sank in rough seas.

At the time of their deaths, local fishermen had been advocating for the harbour to be dredged.

DFO started dredging the harbour after that tragedy, but announced last week it would postpone operations in Tabusintac and Pointe-Sapin until another year.

MacEachern’s Point Harbour, at Tabusintac, is home to 39 commercial boats and Pointe-Sapin has 82, the DFO release said.

MP Serge Cormier was in Tabusintac on Monday to announce the decision to dredge the harbours.

Local fishermen relieved

Luc LeBlanc, of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said members welcome the news and have been worried about going a season without dredging.

“In one word, I would say it’s relief,” LeBlanc said in an interview with CBC’s Shift program.

He added that fishermen will be watching to make sure the work happens quickly, but are still disappointed they had to put up a fight for it to happen.

“This is work that’s [been] done annually, since the ’60s at least,” LeBlanc said.

“I would compare it to snow cleaning on our roadways in New Brunswick — it has to happen every year. There are years that are worse than others, but in no case can we just not do the work.”

Luc LeBlanc, a fisheries organizer with the Maritime Fishermens Union, spoke with Radio-Canada in Meteghan, N.S., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

Luc LeBlanc, with the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said local fishermen are relived that the harbour will be dredged after all. (Olivier Lefebvre/Radio-Canada)

Lobster season opens April 30, and LeBlanc said it’s a race against the clock for the work to be done beforehand. While he estimates the Pointe-Sapin harbour could be dredged in about two days, Tabusintac could take about a week due to the large size of it.

But the minimum work could be completed first before the season starts and then work could resume through the season to slowly widen it, he said.

“So we’re pretty optimistic that it could be done before Tuesday [April 30],” he said.

Fishermen will also continue to put pressure on DFO to fix the partially broken wharf, he added.

LeBlanc thinks DFO changed its decision on postponing the dredging because so many fishermen spoke out against it.

“It’s a mystery why this work wasn’t scheduled to be done — especially in Tabusintac, which has a history of problems with the navigation channel.”


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