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Adam Randell
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Bartlett’s Harbour wharf needs to be replaced, says fisherman

Starring at two big rocks and a big red warning sign, Bartlett’s Harbour fisherman Romeo Myers said every time people step onto the town’s government wharf they are putting their lives at risk and it’s creating problems for area fishermen.

He said boats can’t be offloaded and traps and bait can’t be packed aboard.

Myers recalls one group of fishermen who had to handbar fishing gear more than 500 feet across the deteriorating wharf to get ready for the scallop season.

“What they couldn’t get out, because it was too heavy, they had to go into Castor River North to put the rest of their gear on,” he said. “Right now we’re not even supposed to be using it but we do of course because we don’t have a choice.”

When it comes to boat repairs that could be done at the wharf – if it were usable – Myers said long-liner fishermen have to steam to St. Anthony or Port au Choix – which becomes costly travelling back and forth.

“It’s a big inconvenience for all the fishermen.”

Wharf unsafe for years

Myers said there have been problems with the wharf for years. The head of the wharf and entrance had some work done on it in the past, but the biggest problem is in the midsection.

“The middle was made from old round sticks that was brought out of the woods and it just rots away,” he said.

On top of that, Myers said a major storm blew through the town last December and wreaked havoc on the wharf, dragging portions of it out into the harbour.

“We went out and towed it ashore because we didn’t want anybody hitting it with their boat,” he said.

Myers said the town has been lobbying for a new wharf for years with the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Canada Small Craft and Harbours, but it’s been slow going.

“It’s a big inconvenience for all the fishermen.” Romeo Myers

“Before we had the storm, we had the DFO down here and they had blue prints done up and talking about the work that was going to be done,” he said. “We were happy to see things moving forward, it’s all we talked about for a month.”

Now, almost a year after the storm, “There’s not a bite of difference between the wharf in December to now.

“All they done was put three big rocks across the wharf to block it off.”

Myers said it’s an important piece of infrastructure for the town to have, because it means people can work on their vessels at home. If nothing happens he fears the worse.

“If we loses our wharf our town is gone,” he said. “We need this wharf replaced, if not something usable.”

Myers said he’s tried making contact with different levels of government, in hopes of getting a timeframe, but hasn’t had much luck.

The Northern Pen contacted the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Canada. Small Craft Harbours acknowledged the need for repairing the wharf in an issued statement, but didn’t provide a timeline as to when the work would take place.

According to the statement, “The Department is reviewing a proposal to reconstruct or repair deteriorated sections of the structure and replace the electrical system.

“Engineering design and environmental work is currently ongoing for this project in preparation for potential future improvements to this site.”

info@northernpen.ca

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