(The Working Waterfront)
Last month, The Cat made her last trips from Maine to Nova Scotia before packing it up for the season. There's plenty of reason to fear the high-speed catamaran won't be back next year.
Our region's long-haul ferries had a brutal season. Battered by sky-high fuel prices and a downturn in U.S. travel to Canada, the private-sector car ferries that bridge the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy are on government life support, while prices have soared on the government-run services that connect Newfoundland to the rest of the continent. More at: http://www.workingwaterfront.com/online-exclusives/Parallel-44/12743/
The Way I See It
When I was a wee youngster it seems to me I vaguely remember something about being constantly cautioned that "moderation in all things" was the way to go. I guess no one out there has heard about this or, perhaps like me, it was scoffed at or ignored. Well, looks like another fancy development might crumble this year. The sad thing is that proven, long-term solutions are "tarred with the same brush" and may collapse as well.
It's a short century since we moved from "environmentally friendly"and "sustainable" sail as a method of shipping our goods to huge, fuel guzzling ships that frantically move us and our precious goods back and forth across the globe. I hear we even ship our fish to China so that they can process them (more cheaply) and sell them back to us ... all the while consuming precious, limited fuel. The Cat is a high speed transportation system that zooms between Maine and Yarmouth consuming about 1,300 gallons of fuel per hour. Well, in the current economic climate the users are not coming and the cost of fuel has been and will continue to be, a serious limiting factor; not to mention it is a diminishing resource that some folks estimate will be in limited supply within 25 years.
Unfortunately, traditional ferries are suffering during this crisis as well, the result of big-time government divestiture. So now we see privately owned highways, railway, generating stations, ferries, airlines, and the list goes on. Encouraged by their friends in business, it seems that governments on all levels have sold off our essential public utilities and services, apparently to profit private companies; many of which seem to be constantly in trouble. Well smart folks in charge, your predecessors were wise enough to realize that some services SHOULD be publicly owned and operated. They knew this because private land owners once set up their own toll fences where they charged travellers for passing over their lands and essential transportation was subject to the whims of business. So they all worked hard to protect their constituents and succeeded in placing essential services under public control or regulation. Today we are selling this all when we should be controlling essential services for the people of Canada. More particularly, we desperately need to build business expertise in government, examine alternate "sustainable" strategies for the future, and get on with it before we totally consume this planet in our headlong rush to consume!
Let the Cat go. Check out assisted sail for our short-sea shipping needs and let's all slow down a bit. There's no need to rush to oblivion!
Photo from wikimedia.com. More information about the Cat at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_Ferries