Feds accused of ‘freezing out” locals from N.S. salvage job
Transport Canada requires locals complete a $5,000 inspection before they can bid on work
MAIN-A-DIEU, N.S.— Some fishermen in the Main-a-Dieu area of Nova Scotia have said Transport Canada is making it too difficult for them to take part in the dismantling of a derelict ship that ran agound off Cape Breton as it was being towed to Turkey for decommissioning.
The fishermen claim Transport Canada is requiring a “steamship inspection” that costs about $5,000 before they’re permitted to ferry workers and equipment to the wreckage.
The company in charge of salvaging the M.V. Miner—a bulk carrier that ran aground last September on Scatarie Island off Cape Breton—says the hiring of local fishermen to take part in the process is beyond its control.
In a statement Wednesday, New York-based Bennington Group said it planned to hire 60 local people for the work, but cannot ignore laws or regulations set out by the federal and provincial governments.
“We readily want to work with local fishers and have indicated a desire to do so, but our hands are tied if the federal government dictates that they are not qualified or authorized to participate in this project,” said Abe Shah, the company’s chief operating officer.
Josephine Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the fishermen, said she suspects the government and the salvage company are trying to freeze out the locals because certain vessels and crews have already been lined up to do the work.
Transport Canada issued a statement Tuesday confirming that no fishing vessels in the Main-a-Dieu area had been certified to carry out commercial shipping activities.
Bennington Group said Wednesday it was told from the outset that vessels would have to be cleared by Transport Canada before taking part in the project.
It said it asked whether the department would work with local fishermen to streamline the registration process and understood that would happen.
Steve Bone, a spokesman for Transport Canada, said in a statement Tuesday that the department was working with fishermen “who wish to meet the requirements.”
Shah said the company would press ahead with the work in the meantime.