Automate Lighthouses and endanger lives say North Coast mariners

The message: Computers can't and shouldn't replace light-keepers

11/16/2010

Northwest residents are continuing to voice their disapproval of the Government's plans to de-staff 27-lighthouses on the West Coast. Mariners say that automated light stations record only a fraction of the information that they need in order to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of their crew.

According to the representative of the North Coast Sailing Association, if lighthouses along BC's North Coast are automated, lives will be lost and that blood he says will be on the Government's hands.

Dave Anderson will make a presentation against de-staffing to the Senate's standing committee on fisheries and oceans  when they visit prince rupert later this week. He'll be representing 200 fisherman, sailors and light keepers, who are concerned about their safety.

 "We're gonna lose lives." Bluntly says Anderson. "If they automate the lights, I don't know what they're going to do, I don't know how they're going to live with it  when the first boat that capsizes has got two kids on it. We need to keep our light keepers for safety, for the public, for the marine transportation for the fisherman, for the first nations people that go back and forth between the villages. Bonilla Island for example has to put these people up quite a bit, they can't get back to Kitkatla because of the weather, they're running out of fuel or whatever because they've been fishing for a week, you know stuff like this they can't do that with an automated station, but with a light keeper there they can" Says Anderson.

Anderson says automated stations don't provide real time weather updates, they can't detect flares going off, and some don't record anything more than wind direction and speed. He says in past cases light keepers have even assisted in emergencies. he says light keepers are essential to safety especially in a region that experiences tumultuous storms and sudden changes in weather. He says he doesn't expect any of the senators to be able to relate.

"These are people that I don't care where they're from, they're not from the North Coast. They don't know what we're up against so I'm trying to enlighten them on actually what we're up against"

Anderson will have 20 minutes to convince the committee not to de-staff Triple, Green, Bonilla and Langara Point light stations on Saturday during a closed invite-only meeting. Anderson says he's going to keep up the fight against de-staffing bc lighthouses and says he's going to do the best he can with the twenty minutes he's allotted with the senators this weekend.

 

Sahar Nassimdoost - Prince Rupert