News Briefs for Oct. 20, 2017

Taan contracts

Taan Forest has awarded its first set of forestry contracts after a two-year legal battle with United Steelworkers Union.

In January, a labour arbitrator rejected the United Steelworkers’ argument that Taan was legally bound to use just one or two large “stump to dump” contractors on Tree Farm Licence 60, rather than employing several smaller businesses. Taan prefers to use smaller contractors, in part because it favours hiring more local and Haida workers.

In the next few weeks, Taan will finalize contracts with four local companies: Watchmen Forest Products, Boulder Bay Contracting, CNR Salvage, and Tree Surgeon Contracting.

Each contract is for a five-year term, and all the companies will be required to certify with the United Steelworkers.

Clean-up fleet

A Prince Rupert base tasked with containing and cleaning up on-water fuel spills from Haida Gwaii to Bella Bella has another two vessels in its fleet.

The Kaien Sentinel and Gil Sentinel are 49- and 35-foot boats designed to land crews and equipment on shore. The Gil Sentinel can also lay containment boom and help skim fuel off the water.

With the two new vessels, the North Coast base run by the industry-funded Western Canada Marine Response Corporation now has a total of 10 in its fleet.

Area manager Robert Stromdahl says the WCMRC has been steadily growing its North Coast capacity. Before he started 11 years ago, it had just casual or contract staff and a few storage containers full of equipment.

The North Coast unit now has 11 full-time staff, a dozen casual workers, and plans to add another new vessel within the next two years. On Haida Gwaii, the WCRMC recently re-stocked its spill-response storage units in Masset and Queen Charlotte, where it also runs annual spill-response workshops for residents who would be called in during a spill.

Salmon sightings

First Nations and fishers along the B.C. coast are being asked to report sightings of Atlantic salmon after some 300,000 escaped from a San Juan Islands fish farm on Aug. 19.

Since the escape, 55 have been reported to Atlantic Salmon Watch, which is run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. By contrast, the monitoring program received no reports in 2015 or 2016.

Sightings and captures have come from as far as Campbell River, Tofino, and the lower Fraser River. Tips for identifying Atlantic salmon are available at www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca. Their key distinguishing feature is black spots on the gill cover.

Started in 1991, Atlantic Salmon Watch has yet to find evidence that Atlantic salmon have become established in B.C. waters, but remains alert to the risk.

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