Wednesday, March 25, 2009

$450K redesign of scenic drive markers hailed as improvement, criticized as confusing

Item: FREDERICTON - Fear not, New Brunswick drivers: new provincial highway signs with starfishes set against a red background are not a warning of sea creatures strewn across the road ahead.

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The new signs, top row, replace the old ones, bottom row. From left: Acadian Coastal Drive, Appalachian Range Route, Fundy Coastal Drive, Miramichi River Route and River Valley Scenic Drive.

The sign -- which symbolizes the province's Acadian Coastal Scenic Drive -- is one of five new designs that were unveiled last October.

They're supposed to give direction to travellers, but they're also piquing curiosity and, in some cases, raising concerns from both residents and tourism operators.

"People don't like it at all," said Antoine Landry, mayor of Caraquet. He said the starfish symbol that marks the scenic drive that runs by his northern shore town lacks connection to the area.

"It doesn't really reflect the reality of the Acadian Coastal Area," he said.

Much more at ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Could New Fundy Construction Projects Be Flooded ... Twice a Day?

With the UN report predicting sea level rises in the Bay of Fundy perhaps as high as 3 feet, one wonders what the impacts will be on new construction like the Biological Station at St. Andrews and the new Civic Centre at St. Stephen?

This photo shows high tide at the site of the new Civic Centre in St. Stephen. Hmmm?

News Item

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer -
Sun Mar 15, 2:04 pm ET Scientists find bigger than expected polar ice melt WASHINGTON - The northeastern U.S. coast is likely to see the world's biggest sea level rise from man-made global warming, a new study predicts. However much the oceans rise by the end of the century, add an extra 8 inches or so for New York, Boston and other spots along the coast from the mid-Atlantic to New England. That's because of predicted changes in ocean currents, according to a study based on computer models published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience. An extra 8 inches - on top of a possible 2 or 3 feet of sea rise globally by 2100 - is a big deal, especially when nor'easters and hurricanes hit, experts said. "It's not just waterfront homes and wetlands that are at stake here," said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, who wasn't part of the study. "Those kind of rises in sea level when placed on top of the storm surges we see today, put in jeopardy lots of infrastructure, including the New York subway system." For years, scientists have talked about rising sea levels due to global warming - both from warm water expanding and the melt of ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica. Predictions for the average worldwide sea rise keep changing along with the rate of ice melt. Recently, more scientists are saying the situation has worsened so that a 3-foot rise in sea level by 2100 is becoming a common theme. More at:

Thanks to Vivian N.

UN: Rising sea levels threaten Bay of Fundy coast

TRURO — Canada's environment minister will be looking into potential problems for major flooding along the Bay of Fundy coastline.

Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey says he has raised concerns with Jim Prentice given that the United Nations Panel on Global Warming identified the Bay of Fundy as one of the most vulnerable in North America.

The report said the area could be severely damaged due to rising sea levels resulting from global warming.

Casey says Prentice is trying to identify resources to assess the vulnerability of the Bay of Fundy shoreline.

He told the minister about the damage caused by severe storms in the Advocate area last December and in Truro and Bible Hill during the past few years.

More info: and:

Photo Credit: Joyce Morrell

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Ferry for Grand Manan

Published Tuesday March 10th, 2009
Transport Liberal government will likely announce winning bidder for new vessel

Click to Enlarge
NB images
The Grand Manan V will eventually become the summer backup ferry, with Premier Shawn Graham expected to announce a successful bidder on a new vessel today.

GRAND MANAN - One could forgive Grand Mananers for expecting good news today about their ferry service to the mainland.

A funding announcement that brings Premier Shawn Graham and Transportation Minister Denis Landry to the island must have something to do with the ferry.

"It sort of looks that way," Grand Manan Mayor Dennis Green said on Monday.

The premier and other politicians will make the announcement at the Grand Manan Community School at 1:30 p.m., according to a provincial government release.

They will probably announce the successful bidder to build a new 80-car ferry to replace the 43-year-old MV Grand Manan, which carries 25 cars.

The MV Grand Manan runs as the summer backup to the Grand Manan V, which carries 60 cars. The new vessel will become the main ferry with the Grand Manan V serving as the backup.

The provincial government announced the Fundy Islands Ferry Project in August 2006 to build new vessels to run to and from Grand Manan, White Head Island and Deer Island.

The project went through a couple of adjustments since then, including cutting the new Grand Manan ferry to 80 cars from 101.

The province originally planned to award a contract to design and build the ferries, and operate the service for 15 to 20 years.

Three companies responded to the request for qualifications to undertake this contract, but only one submitted a proposal - and it did not include all of the information the government wanted.

Without this information the government could not evaluate the bid or the cost to taxpayers, Landry said in a news release in April.

"Our next step is to seek a shipbuilder to design and build a new ferry for Grand Manan. The Department of Transportation will design and call tenders for new ferries for White Head Island and Deer Island through our traditional process," Landry said in the news release. "We will also be seeking an operator for the service to the three islands."

"They were going with build and operate. Now they're just going to build," Green said.

The $661-million capital budget that Finance Minister Victor Boudreau presented to the legislative assembly on Dec. 9 includes almost $16.5 million for the Fundy Islands ferry project.

While people on the three islands rejoice, some people on Campobello Island ask why the Fundy Islands ferry project does not include them.

A bridge links Campobello Island to Lubec, Maine, but that means going through customs twice to get to St. Stephen.

"We have access to another country, but that is getting harder and harder to justify," Gerry Hicks with the Campobello Island Health and Wellness Advisory Committee said Monday. "As of June we'll require a passport to get gas and all that stuff.

"We're at the mercy of the Americans," he said.

A privately owned summer ferry runs from Campobello Island to Deer Island, but the committee says Campobello needs a year-round ferry link to the New Brunswick mainland.

Wetlands key to the environment: premier

Published Friday March 13th, 2009

Marshes will see immediate attention from new eco-system fund

FREDERICTON - Wetland areas in southeastern New Brunswick will be among the first to see money from a new fund meant to maintain and protect such fragile eco-systems across the province.

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The New Brunswick government contributed $1.5 million yesterday to help maintain and safeguard infrastructure projects which protect provincial wetlands.

The provincial government is giving $1.5 million to create a Wetlands Sustainability Fund to be carried out by Ducks Unlimited Canada, which is matching the province's contribution of $1.5 million to also go towards the fund.

Ducks Unlimited says they'll use the capital and interest collected from the fund to maintain infrastructure projects that safeguard maintained wetlands in the province. Some of this infrastructure is 30 to 35-years-old and includes 217 water control structures, 59 fishways and 136 kilometers (85 miles) of dyke systems.

"To function properly, these managed wetlands must be maintained through annual inspections, repairs and reconstructions," said Mac Dunfield, senior Atlantic director of Ducks Unlimited.

Wetland areas that will see immediate attention from the fund include the Germantown Marsh, near the Fundy Trail, which is about 2,000 acres (809 hectares) large. It will see money to repair its aging dyke systems.

The Missaquash Marsh, along the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border, has a size of about 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) and will get money to enhance its water control structure.

Altogether there's 20,539 hectares (8,312 acres) of New Brunswick wetlands maintained by Ducks Unlimited, mostly along the Northumberland Strait coastal plain, the Tantramar area of the upper Bay of Fundy, and the St. John River flood plain.

Premier Shawn Graham and Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles joined Dunfield yesterday in making the funding announcement. Graham called the new fund a "win-win" situation for protecting wetlands and supporting an ailing economy.

"In addition to maintaining this important infrastructure, we're going to be creating jobs for New Brunswickers' at a time when stimulating the economy is the top priority of our government," he said. "The work that will be carried out under the Wetlands Sustainability Fund will generate approximately 50 jobs annually, and mostly in the rural areas of our province."

Graham said some of the jobs that will spring from this fund will include work for local heavy equipment contractors and suppliers of construction materials.

In the last 40 years, Ducks Unlimited Canada has invested $40 million to conserve 21,000 hectares (51,892 acres) of New Brunswick wetlands. More than half of the maintained wetlands in Atlantic Canada are located in New Brunswick. Environmentalists say wetlands are important when it comes to providing homes for 600 species of wildlife in this province, including migratory birds, while also being beneficial to stopping the effects of flooding and erosion.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The tragedy of the oceans: How bad is it?


Chronicle Herald

EVERY TIME a page turns on the saga of the world’s oceans, the story gets more hair-raising. Now, according to an international report released this week, the large fish remaining out there are going hungry because we’re wiping out their prey fish in an accelerating race to nowhere.

Add to that picture the proliferation of huge oxygen-starved oceanic "dead zones" caused by a combination of pollution and rising temperatures (over 400 and counting, up by a third in only the last couple of years), acidification of the seas leading to destruction of the coral reefs and other noxious effects, plus vast algae blooms, and the story is on the verge of being a full-blown horror show.

One of the more grabby bits in the report, by the Washington-based Oceana research group, is that up to 80 per cent or more of this prey fishing – for herring, mackerel, krill, anchovies, squid and others – is not directly for human food, but as feed for finfish aquaculture, notably salmon farms.

This, in passing, throws an interesting light on the dispute over a huge new salmon farm in Port Mouton Bay, which residents are opposing on grounds it will hopelessly pollute the bay and destroy the local wild fishery. According to this report’s calculation, new salmon farms shouldn’t be going up anywhere, let alone in a sensitive bay, because of their role in the relentless destruction of ocean life generally.

These alarms about the state of the oceans have been coming with increased frequency in recent years, in some cases in fulfilment of predictions that were made decades ago about the ultimately catastrophic effects of overfishing and pollution. The best that can be said about their impact is that there is none. There are more scientific conferences and more studies, and here and there some initiatives like no-fishing marine reserves or tighter fisheries and pollution management, but action is woefully short of preventing the gathering devastation.

In fact, since out of sight is out of mind, the most prominent feature of the whole thing is our capacity to ignore it. As with global warming generally and other facets of environmental destruction, the scientists keep saying there’s a window of opportunity to reverse matters if we act now. But since there’s no clear and common will to deal with it on a global scale, and no sign of one coming, we must assume that the tragedy will simply continue to unfold mostly unchecked with full consequences for human life and for nature as a whole, whatever those are.

With regard to fishing, aquaculture now accounts for almost half the fish consumed in the world. One of the easy assumptions about fish farming is that it will displace the wild fishery. But since farmed fish require prey fish for food, the practice is actually hastening the worst for the wild fishery, aided by the world’s high-tech fleets probing ever deeper and harder.

Complete Article


Ralph Surette is a veteran freelance journalist living in Yarmouth County.

Something for Curmudgeons

"Hope has two beautiful daughters;
their names are Anger and Courage.
Anger at the way things are, and
Courage to see that things do not
remain as they are. - St. Augustine"

Thanks Keith via Tim

Monday, March 2, 2009

Molly Kool - Fundy Legend Dies at 93

More at:

Molly Kool was the first female sea captain in North America
Born in N.B., Kool died in Bangor at 93

MONCTON, N.B. — Molly Kool, the first woman in North America to become a registered sea captain, died Wednesday. She was 93.

Kool was born in 1916 in Alma, N.B., and spent the first 30 years of her life there. She had been living in Bangor, Maine, for years when she died.

"She was a real pioneer in the status of women and she tackled something absolutely unheard of," said Ken Kelly, president of the Fundy Beautification and Historical Society.

Kelly was a friend of Kool and would visit her in Bangor once a year. She would also regularly come stay with him and his wife in Alma.

Kool tried to enrol in navigation school in Saint John, N.B., but was initially turned away because no woman in North America had ever obtained her mate’s papers.

She persisted and was eventually admitted.

She passed her mate’s papers in 1937 at the age of 21 and passed her master’s exam a couple of years later, receiving her master’s certificate and the title of captain.

"She was a New Brunswick girl and she really overcame a lot. It’s a hell of a story," said Kelly. "She had to earn every bit of what she had and there was a lot of resistance in those days, but she stood her ground and fared well."

Rita Hopper, also a friend of Kool, said some men in the shipping industry didn’t agree with a woman being captain of a ship, while others were fine with it.

She said Kool had the personality to handle any troublemakers.

"She was tough," recalled Hopper. "Nothing would bother her and you could dare her to do anything and she would.

"She wouldn’t take nothing from nobody and she would let you have it. She didn’t care."