Fish­ing wharf con­di­tions wor­ri­some

Three wharves on Cape Sable Is­land con­tin­u­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate


There is grow­ing con­cern about the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions of the three com­mer­cial fish­ing wharves on the east­ern side of Cape Sable Is­land; Crip­ple Creek wharf in Clam Point, Bulls Head wharf in Stoney Is­land and the South Side wharf in South Side.

“We’re only one good storm away from the de­struc­tion of one or more of these wharves,” said Wayne Smith, veteran fish­er­man and for­mer mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lor, dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to the Bar­ring­ton and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce on May 7.

Smith, of Clam Point, along with Dick Crow­ell, man­ager of the Har­bour Au­thor­ity of Cape Sable Is­land (HACSI), have been ap­proach­ing com­mu­nity part­ners for let­ters of sup­port to back pro­pos­als that have been sub­mit­ted to DFO’s Small Craft Har­bours branch for port im­prove­ments and re-de­vel­op­ment at the Crip­ple Creek wharf in par­tic­u­lar.

“Many of our wharves and har­bours, the needed back­bone of the most im­por­tant in­dus­try in Nova Sco­tia, have reached the end of, or sur­passed their life ex­pectancy,” wrote Bar­ring­ton Mu­nic­i­pal War­den Ed­die Nick­er­son in a let­ter to fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic LeBlanc.

Nick­er­son said specif­i­cally the mu­nic­i­pal­ity sup­ports the re-de­vel­op­ment of the Crip­ple Creek wharf.

“With each storm there is fur­ther dam­age to this aging in­fra­struc­ture and the fish­ers who use Crip­ple Creek risk their liveli­hood due to wharves not be­ing strong enough or large enough to ac­com­mo­date their needs,” said Nick­er­son, for­mally re­quest­ing the fish­eries min­is­ter to visit the area and to sup­port in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments not only for Crip­ple Creek wharf, but other ports in need of re­pair along the shores. Grass grows in the rot­ted cre­osote tim­bers on a por­tion of the Crip­ple Creek Wharf in Clam Point used as berthage for at least one ves­sel. Con­cerns about the con­di­tion of this wharf, as well as nu­mer­ous oth­ers in the area are grow­ing.

“We’re only one good storm away from the de­struc­tion of one or more of these wharves.”

- Fish­er­man Wayne Smith

The wharves on the east­ern side of Cape Sable Is­land are in the worst shape be­cause they suf­fer from the worst weather ef­fects, said Crow­ell in an in­ter­view.

“The en­vi­ron­men­tal pres­sures from the sea are re­ally ac­cel­er­at­ing the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of those wharves,” said Crow­ell. “Af­ter a while it just has a cu­mu­la­tive af­fect not only from silt­ing in the har­bours but also from the pres­sure of the surges that go in those har­bours. They work their way in.

“Those break­wa­ters are great be­cause with­out them, there wouldn’t be a har­bour there, but they don’t break the to­tal en­ergy down. They stop the full im­pact but the en­ergy is still there,” he added, say­ing it has to be dis­si­pated so it en­ters the har­bour cre­at­ing surges that rock the berthed ves­sels back and forth, putting lat­eral pres­sure on the wharves and what they’re tied to.

“I’m do­ing two in­sur­ance claims now for dam­age to boats from pieces of tim­ber com­ing off the wharf in Clam Point,” said Crow­ell, not­ing the tim­bers were treated with cre­osote which hasn’t been used for a very long time in wharf con­struc­tion.

Safety is an­other area of con­cern, with ris­ing sea heights and storm surges caus­ing the wharves to get over­topped with wa­ter.

“That’s be­com­ing more com­mon than it ever was,” said Crow­ell. “That’s a safety is­sue. Fish­er­men have a lot of in­vest­ment sit­ting there and they go tend their boats and tend their lines and are forced to go out on that wharf in those kinds of con­di­tions. It’s very dan­ger­ous.”

The de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the wharf in­fra­struc­ture “is pretty much com­mon” in the area, said Crow­ell be­cause Small Craft Har­bours has been chron­i­cally un­der­funded for many years.

About 165 boats use the six wharves un­der the HACSI. Add to that the West Head wharf fleet and there are ap­prox­i­mately 300 ac­tive fish­ing boats us­ing the wharves on Cape Sable Is­land. If one of those wharves were ex­ten­sively dam­aged and ren­dered un­us­able it would be “eco­nom­i­cally dev­as­tat­ing” said Crow­ell. “There would be nowhere to put boats.”

Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton MLA Chris d’En­tremont has also writ­ten the fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter, ask­ing him for sup­port in find­ing solu- Dick Crow­ell, man­ager of the Har­bour Au­thor­ity of Cape Sable Is­land (HACSI), talks about the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions of the wharves in the area. Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to the HACSI is the Crip­ple Creek Wharf in Clam Point. tions to port in­fra­struc­ture chal­lenges.

“There are 26 ports in the con­stituency of Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton and I would guess that all of them re­quire some kind of work, rang­ing in value from a few thou­sand dol­lars to mil­lions of dol­lars,” wrote d’En­tremont. “Re­cent storms have caused dam­age and has made fish­ers ques­tion the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity and safety of these ports, due to the sever­ity of the storms and ris­ing sea lev­els,” he said, nam­ing Crip­ple Creek, East Pub­nico, Den­nis Point Ab­bott’s Har­bour and Camp Cove as wharves in the Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton rid­ing re­quir­ing “large in­vest­ments.”

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