Newfoundland and LabradorNewfoundland and Labrador news
Updated: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 11:39:59 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Concerns about coast guard communications closure in St. Anthony



Concerns about coast guard communications closure in St. Anthony

Local fishermen and officials in St. Anthony had a meeting Wednesday to discuss concerns over the pending closure of the community's coast guard communication centre in March 2015.

Liberal MP Gerry Byrne attended the meeting and said it's clear there needs to be a commission of inquiry into the coast guard.

Fisherman Steve Mitchelmore credits action from an employee at the Marine Communication Traffic Service Centre in St. Anthony with saving his life last year while he was on the water.

Mitchelmore checked in with Dwayne Cull at the centre earlier on the day of his rescue, but ran into trouble when he was seal hunting.

When Cull didn't hear from Mitchelmore later that day, he knew exactly where to send a helicopter to pick him up.

Mitchelmore said moving coast guard services off the island will compromise the efficiency of the centre, and therefore the safety of people on the water.

"That's one life saved — that's proven right there," Mitchelmore said. "Where would I have been if Dwayne hadn't called in and let them know where I was at?"

Mitchelmore said he wouldn't feel as confident in his safety once the services are moved.

"Even if I get in a little bit of distress, and knowing that coast guard has moved somewhere else to Goose Bay or Halifax or any place like that, I would be a lot more nervous … because it’s going to take them a lot longer to get there," he said.

St. Anthony Mayor Ern Simms said responders from elsewhere in the province or Canada won’t have the level of knowledge of the local areas that would be needed.

"People that are on the smaller boats — the 35-footers or the outboard boats — they won't have any information at all to deal with," Simms said. "Nobody knows where Maiden's Harbour is at — nobody knows where The Sisters are."

Simms sent an email to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking why the centre is being closed. Seven jobs will be cut with the closure.

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