Ferry an important link for foshing industry to get its products to market
Relief and disappointment come with Digby ferry announcement
By Tina Comeau
A representative of the fishing industry in southwestern Nova Scotia says the industry was both relieved and disappointed with the recent infusion of funding into the ferry service between Digby, N.S. and Saint John, N.B.
With $15.1 million being pumped into the service, the ferry will keep operating for another two years. “It’s a relief and we’re pleased that there is going to be funding supplied from the three governments to keep the ferry operating for the next two years,” says Denny Morrow, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association, who was part of a transportation coalition that studied the financial impact of the ferry service.
But beyond those two years, things still remain uncertain. “We’re disappointed that we seem to be no further ahead to finding a long term solution, basically a replacement for a very old vessel that has a limited life span.”
Morrow says the challenge over the next two years will be for local businesses, stakeholders and politicians to provide input and work cooperatively with the three levels of government to find a long-term solution for the service. “I think we need to be, from the commercial shipping side and the tourism side, much more aggressive in helping to find a solution…what kind of vessels are available and how we can make them work?” he suggests.
For the fishing industry, the ferry service is considered an extension of the highway that takes their goods to market. Morrow thinks this message is getting through and he says comments made by MP Peter MacKay at the time of the recent funding announcement were a positive sign in that direction. “There seems to be a growing realization that in an era of rapidly increasing petroleum gasoline, diesel fuel prices and a need to lower carbon emissions, that other forms of transportation besides roads and trucks and cars has to be part of the mix,” says Morrow, who points out the fishing industry is facing a cumulative cost impact and needs the ferry. “We have seen our profit margin disappear in the industry due to the rising price of fuel, electricity, the exchange rate with the United States, cheap competition from Asia with other premium seafood products,” he says. “So getting our fresh fish and our live lobster to market in the cheapest way possible, the quickest way possible, is a crucial issue.”