Top News

On guard


The news that two western Newfoundland Coast Guard search and rescue stations — one in Lark Harbour and one in Port aux Choix — would be closing for the winter months shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the two operations are considered to be seasonal.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s press release Monday says the vessels at the seasonal stations can’t operate in the ice-covered Gulf of St. Lawrence during the winter months, so icebreakers and “vessels of opportunity” would be on call when necessary.
The release goes on to say that these seasonal stations “are strategically located to provide assistance as quickly as possible to minimize loss of life, injury and property damage in the maritime environment at peak times during the year.”
Should it be cause for concern then, that the search and rescue capabilities of these two stations will be at the mercy of “vessels of opportunity” to cover off these areas from this week until April of next year?
While the potential for maritime incidents will obviously decrease when the waters are frozen over, there are a myriad of other potential emergency scenarios that could occur — anything from snowmobiles or people falling through thin ice, not to mention the possibility that the waters may not remain ice-covered from the entire period from now until April.
We’ve learned from recent history that tragedies can happen closer to home, like the capsized crab boat near Little Port in June 2014 that saw one person die. Three others were rescued, thanks in large part to the efforts of Coast Guard and local volunteers who convened at the station in Lark Harbour to offer their assistance.
Let’s hope if an emergency were to happen that these vessels do have the opportunity to be close by. And let’s also hope it doesn’t take any further tragedy to force a rethinking of seasonal rescue stations.

The Canadian Coast Guard’s press release Monday says the vessels at the seasonal stations can’t operate in the ice-covered Gulf of St. Lawrence during the winter months, so icebreakers and “vessels of opportunity” would be on call when necessary.
The release goes on to say that these seasonal stations “are strategically located to provide assistance as quickly as possible to minimize loss of life, injury and property damage in the maritime environment at peak times during the year.”
Should it be cause for concern then, that the search and rescue capabilities of these two stations will be at the mercy of “vessels of opportunity” to cover off these areas from this week until April of next year?
While the potential for maritime incidents will obviously decrease when the waters are frozen over, there are a myriad of other potential emergency scenarios that could occur — anything from snowmobiles or people falling through thin ice, not to mention the possibility that the waters may not remain ice-covered from the entire period from now until April.
We’ve learned from recent history that tragedies can happen closer to home, like the capsized crab boat near Little Port in June 2014 that saw one person die. Three others were rescued, thanks in large part to the efforts of Coast Guard and local volunteers who convened at the station in Lark Harbour to offer their assistance.
Let’s hope if an emergency were to happen that these vessels do have the opportunity to be close by. And let’s also hope it doesn’t take any further tragedy to force a rethinking of seasonal rescue stations.

Recent Stories