CAW Local 2182 speaks out about CCG cuts

Reduction in staff at Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services will put mariners at risk...

Press release from CAW 2182:

The Canadian Coast Guard in Ottawa has announced that they intend to reduce staff on watch at Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres beginning in January 2012.

Marine Communications and Traffic Services provide distress and safety communication, vessel traffic services and weather information, including lighthouse weather reports.

Highly trained MCTS officers provide a vital link between mariners and search and rescue resources. Vessel traffic services provide traffic advisories to shipping and regulate their movement to prevent the chance of collision and groundings, which cause loss of life and significant marine pollution. MCTS provides weather information, including forecasts, lighthouse weather observations and support to other government agencies such as maritime security, provincial emergency program, Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP to name a few.

The five MCTS centres in British Columbia regulate hundreds of thousands of vessel movements each year, many of them BC Ferries, cruise ships, tugs towing barges with dangerous cargo, fishing vessels and deep sea ships including tankers. Crucial to marine safety is the traffic information provided to transit critical waterways such as Active Pass, Vancouver Harbour and Seymour Narrows. The five centres handle over 3000 marine incidents each year.

The intention of the Coast Guard in Ottawa is to reduce the number of officers on watch most of the year to save money. The Conservative government is reversing its commitment to coastal communities and the safety of Canadians from when they were in opposition.

CAW Local 2182 is concerned that the reduction of staff on watch at the MCTS centres will place undue risk to mariners and boaters by leaving inadequate resources to draw on during emergency situations. MCTS are responsible to disseminating tsunami alert information for mariners and coastal communities.

Coast Guard management completed a risk assessment on the reduction of officers on watch and is willing to assume the risk for coastal communities, boaters and mariners that nothing tragic will happen. The Coast Guard has assumed the risk on behalf of the public that use coastal waters. CAW Local 2182 is calling on the Coast Guard, and Department of Fisheries & Oceans, to reverse this decision.

By BC ShippingNews - January 6th 2012