Harbour Authority of Cape St. George

Cape fishermen taking over wharf

Jim Cheeseman, area director for the Small Crafts and Harbours division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, shows Cape St. George fisherman Leon Simon where to sign a letter stating the fishermen intend to take over the wharf facilities at DeGrau.

...Mr. Cheeseman said if they are willing to take control of the facility, he doesn't see installing lights as a problem - so long as the fishermen pay the electric bill.

With the fishermen still a little apprehensive, Mr. Cheeseman pointed out there are more than 100 harbour authorities currently operating in the province and not one has ever asked to go back to the old system.

"I think it's 100 per cent better than the way it used to be," says Clarence LeCoure, chair of the harbour authority for Black Duck Brook/Blue Beach, a facility located on the northern side of the Port au Port Peninsula. Mr. LeCoure says fishermen had been too dependent on government when it came to even the smallest of repairs to wharves and slipways and it seemed like it used to take forever to get anything done.

Under the new system the fishermen have more responsibility and more control over the facilities they need to make a living.

"We charge a harbour fee which we have to pay once a year and then use that money to upgrade the equipment and perform maintenance," says Mr. LeCoure. "Government still pays to do the work on the slipways and so on, but they contract it through the harbour authority which gives us a way to earn some extra money, plus provide a few local jobs. This is a way better system. It should have been put in place long ago."

Before the meeting with Mr. Cheeseman ended, the eight local fishermen in attendance signed a letter of intent to pursue forming a harbour authority. The next step will be to hold a public meeting, elect a board and sign a lease agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


The Georgian, April 7, 1998

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