SUMMERSIDE – Rod and tackle fishers who are used to casting off the Summerside wharf will have to comply with a set of new regulations that have come into play.
Recently, the Summerside Port Corporation Inc. (SPCI) announced that anyone on the wharf within a metre of the curb by the water must wear a personal floatation device.
“The Summerside Marine Terminal is now considered by Transport Canada as the commercial port of P.E.I., and as such, we fall under federal worksite occupation health and safety regulations,” said Arnold Croken the CEO of SPCI and harbour master.
For years the wharf has been used by recreational fishers casting for mackerel during the summer season.
He says enforcing the regulation includes keeping an eye on the fishers, which led to a portion of the pier being closed off.
Currently, fishers are able to cast off on the northern end of the pier between the main gate and the corporation’s main office.
“We also remind anyone not respecting the regulation that they must if they [want to] fish off the terminal wharf. If there is commercial activity on the wharf, the wharf will be closed to recreation fishers until the work is complete.”
David Huestis, the wharfinger and property manager for the SPCI, says about 90 per cent of the people he’s informed about the new regulation have been open-minded and are pleased with it.
“It’s more of an issue of change. Some people who have been upset by the regulation say to me ‘I’ve been fishing here for 50 years.’ Well, 50 years ago we weren’t required to drive with our seatbelts on,” said Huestis, indicating things change.
He says on a daily basis there could be between zero and 20 fishers on the wharf.
The regulation extends into the areas within the corporation’s gates.
Currently there is no fine system in place for any fishers on the wharf without a life jacket.
John Clow, a Summerside, resident says he’s been fishing at the Summerside port for 40 to 50 years.
“I’m 72 now, the first time I probably fished was down at the wharf when I was a young boy. So, it’s disappointing to see us have to move into a different area that isn’t heavily occupied by mackerel.”
Clow said recently he was fishing in the new area and noticed that other fishers about to leave the docks and loading their boats weren’t wearing personal floatation devices.
“Why are they [life-jackets] only required in one part of the wharf and not the other part? I’ve also seen people standing on the rail taking selfies and what not, but they aren’t forced to wear a life-jacket.”’
He feels the new regulations are very heavy handed.
“If there is certain equipment or items being stored in the containers at the end of the wharf, then I can see the need for it to be blocked off. But if they are empty, why can’t we go down to where we’ve always been?”
Don Arsenault, who has been frequenting the port for the past few years says it’s an easy compromise to make if it means he can continue to fish off the wharf.
“I’d much rather put a life jacket on than have to stop fishing here all together. It’s a great spot to be at. I’m just happy they didn’t shut it down.”