Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, left, braces against a driving rain and wind in North Lake Tuesday following an announcement for $4 million in upgrades to a number of P.E.I. harbours. With her are port manager Sheila Eastman and port authority chair Craig Veld. Guardian photo by Steve Sharratt.
ISLAND NORTH LAKE — Imagine the Walmart parking on Christmas Eve and you get a sense of how crowded it can be in P.E.I.’s most easterly fishing harbour.
“It’s not every day of course, but when the busy season is on we’ll have boats in here tied three or four abreast,’’ says harbour manager Sheila Eastman.
“You’d be hard pressed to paddle a canoe down the channel.”
That’s why construction is already underway on expanding the boat pen here (the designated are for mooring boats) in a job estimated around $1 million. It’s the biggest slice of a $4-million pie in an announcement made by federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea here Tuesday.
Despite the rain and wind pounding the harbour face, Shea even took a quick tour around the site that serves almost 100 boats on a regular basis and up to over 200 during the transient season. North Lake, which bills itself as the ‘Tuna Capital of the World’, is on the most easterly tip of the province and home to the International Tuna Cup challenge and a destination site for anglers from around the world.
“This is so important for us here,’’ says harbour authority chairman and fisherman Craig Veld. “It’s very congested and the safety factor alone will be tremendous ... boats are banging into each other the way it is now. ”
North Lake is not just a harbour serving the lobster industry, but also serves about 65 herring boats during the season and dozens of others during the Tuna Cup challenge that will be underway this month. There is no breakwater for boats to tie up or moor other than the protected pens.
“Small craft harbours play a vital role in the economy of fishing communities,” said Shea. “We have to have safe and workable harbours for our fishermen.”
Major projects include the new pen at North Lake, wharf construction at Beach Point, Georgetown and Red Head and planning for future work at Tignish, Machon’s Point, and Stanley Bridge. There will also be dredging at Malpeque Cove, North Lake, Skinner’s Pond, Tracadie and Naufrage this year.