The Rock Takes Ice Crisis in Stride

Worth A Look, Climate, Frontier Centre

Newfoundlanders are crying, laughing and carrying on while the rest of the country frets about more than 100 vessels stuck in the ice off the province’s northern shore, says veteran fisherman Jack Troake.

It is common that boats would become lodged between ice pans during seal hunting season, he said, but this year many more vessels are stranded, he said.

“Us Newfoundlanders, that’s the reason we’re different than you other Canadians. We don’t take life that serious. You know, we face every day as it comes: You cry some, you laugh some and you carry on. You can’t change what’s done, you can’t go back and change the past.

“We don’t take this stuff serious, my love. It’s part of living here on the coast of Newfoundland and trying to make a living from the fishing industry. If you’re not prepared to put up with some of this stuff, you know, don’t ever think about going at it.”

Many of the boats, including three Coast Guard vessels, have been trapped for about 10 days and Mr. Troake, 71, expects today’s north wind means the situation will not change for at least 48 hours.

An unusually cold winter has caused excessive ice to crowd the shore, preventing longliners from returning from the seal hunt, he said. Mr. Troake, is left bidding his time at his home in Twillingate, about 60 kilometres north of Gander.

Alvin Cassell, a fisherman from St. Anthony’s, was one of a few who made it back to shore after his longliner, Miss Cherise, was punctured on April 11 on an ice pan the size of a football field.
Based on last year’s earnings, Mr. Cassell estimates he has lost the opportunity to earn more than $80,000.

“We’ve had such cold weather, -40C, -35C. That’s not normal cold for us. We listen to the people calling for that global warming and they said there was going to be no ice and our seals were going to drown and all this stuff.

“We stayed home and watched the ice pass up by us and when we went out to go through the ice, we couldn’t get through it, it was too thick,” Mr. Cassell said.

“My blame is going to on scientists saying this global warming. It’s nonsense. All they’re looking for is an increase in pay.”

Earlier this week, six Coast Guard ships and three helicopters were involved in 12 search and rescue operations, said Captain Brian Penney, superintendent of Coast Guard operations.

Rescuers focused on the area surrounding Fogo Island where about 20 vessels are stuck in thick, constantly moving ice which could tip the longliners or crush their hulls.

Mr. Troake said he has seen boats trapped for weeks at a time and is not concerned by the latest incidents.

Besides, he said there is plenty to do when you’re stuck.

“You play cards, you put on big feeds, you back bite your neighbour and think about all the money you’re going to make and all the women you should have had.”