kscarbel2 Posted March 29, 2016 Share Posted March 29, 2016 The Chronicle Herald / March 24, 2016 The announcement of the new high-speed ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, now expected to restart in mid-June, is not the cat’s meow to some. No commercial trucks will be allowed on board, said Bay Ferries president and CEO Mark MacDonald at a briefing in Halifax. “It’s disappointing,” said Nathan Blades of Sable Fish Packers of Shelburne, who is also president of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association. “That link has traditionally been considered a valuable one for the seafood industry and getting fresh fish to U.S. markets is extremely important to securing that market. It’s a slap in the face to Nova Scotia business.” The prospect of allowing commercial trucks on board the new ferry was dumped early on in the Bay Ferries’ negotiations with Portland city officials, said MacDonald. He said Portland’s council was not prepared to permit commercial trucks to use the service because they didn’t want them coming through and parking in the downtown core. There were additional aspects regarding border surveillance they didn’t want to consider either. Blades was also a founding member of the Bay of Fundy Marine Transportation Association, which was formed by various local industry representatives such as fishing and tourism operators to lobby keeping the Digby-St John service. “Portland’s downtown is more tourist-oriented now, so they probably don’t want to upset their tourists,” he said. “But I don’t understand how a few commercial trucks crossing once a day can cause too much upset. Motor coaches are just as big but they will allow those.” But Blades thinks the province has missed the boat on the 2016 tourism season. “Those companies plan a year out, so it’s conceivable many of the tour-bus companies have bailed on the Portland to Yarmouth run.” “I don’t understand why they would deliberately take away a revenue stream. Had they allowed commercial trucks it would have given our members another option to get fresh seafood more quickly into the U.S. market,” he said. But he’s glad they at least have the Digby to St. John run. Blades estimates that using the Fundy Rose from Digby cuts their journey by six hours each way. He says companies using that service still get turned away because the Fundy Rose has less commercial truck capacity than its predecessor, the Princess of Acadia. “So they still end up driving around through the province and into New Brunswick.” The service was maxed out during the lobster season in December-January, he said. Jean Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, didn’t think the decision would affect many of their general freight members. Picard said the Nova Star’s crossing times didn’t coincide with delivery schedules for many. “So for them it was just as good to go around rather than wait five hours to board the vessel,” said Blades. “They’ve just continued to do that. They didn’t give the Nova Star enough time to build.” The high-speed ferry is a 2007-built Alakai owned by the United States Navy, so the company has a charter agreement for at least two years, with the possibility of two one-year extensions. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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