Commercial saltwater fishing is a dangerous enterprise and a visit to any fisherman's memorial is a stark testament to this fact. As the full impacts of climate change are becoming better understood it is all too apparent that participants in this industry will become even more imperiled by sudden, severe and very bad weather. What is so very frustrating is that there are things that could be done that would dramatically lessen the risk and provide great benefits to those who make their living on the sea as well as on the land. It is called Doppler radar.
Doppler radar is a very powerful tool that allows forecasters as well as the general public to see what weather is coming towards them up to several hundred kilometers away. It is both a very simple and an incredibly complex source of information to meteorologists, amateur forecasters and people with weather related interests. Currently the government of Canada operate 31 of these sites in whole or in part. We are suggesting that there is an urgent need to add a 32nd site in southwest Nova Scotia.
The problem that we have in this area is that storms come off the coast of the northeast United States and disappear into the Gulf of Maine where they work themselves up into a fury and them slam unannounced into southwest Nova Scotia. History all too well lists the tragic results and great the property damage that results. The few hours of advance warning that Doppler radar would have given would have allowed people to either run for cover or to make emergency preparations for the approaching storm.
Appeals to the federal government by everyone from municipal governments, EMO's, fishermen and the general public have so far been to no avail. This in spite of the fact that they had more than enough "spare parts" stored in Ottawa to build a system for the Winter Olympics in Whistler, B.C. It certainly begs the question as to which is more important in our government’s eyes. Is it sports or the men and women who pay the taxes and make their living from the industry of the ocean and all that goes with it?
There is no more critical time than right now - the beginning of the winter lobster fishery in southwest Nova Scotia to consider that 32nd site again.