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Vol 38  No 1
August 11, 2005


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Training in oil spill counter-measures

By Kim Thornhill

One Ocean, a liaison organization for the fishing and petroleum sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador, will take the lead in training fisheries workers in oil spill counter-measures. The three-year training program will be coordinated with the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland (Marine Institute), with $497,642 in funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

The announcement was made Aug. 5 by John Efford, minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of Joseph McGuire, minister of ACOA.

There are currently three certified response organizations in Eastern Canada that provide marine oil spill response services. They are: Eastern Canada Response Corporation (ECRC); the Point Tupper Marine Services Limited; and Atlantic Emergency Response Team Ltd.

The goal of the training program is to enhance the understanding of oil spill counter measures at the community level. The Marine Institute developed the program curriculum, with input from the Canadian Coast Guard, and ECRC. The program will take place over five days and include courses in Oil Spill Containment and Protection Techniques; Spill Behavior and Assessment; Sorbents; Shoreline Cleanup Techniques; and Transfer Storage and Disposal.

Dr. Art May, chair of One Ocean, noted that the economic stability of the province is largely dependent on the sustainable use of its diverse marine related industries, given that 604, of the 694 registered communities in the province are coastal communities.

“A spill, should it occur, would have serious negative implications from an environmental, economic and social perspective,” he said. “With this in mind, the training of fisheries workers in oil spill response is both logical and cost-effective.”

Training will take place in 15 communities: Bay Bulls; Holyrood; Placentia, Arnold’s Cove; Burin; St. Lawrence; Stephenville; Port aux Basques; Port au Choix; St. Anthony; Forteau; Mary’s Harbour; Twillingate; Fogo; and Port de Grave.

The Marine Institute’s Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) will provide qualified instructors for the five-day training program. The Canadian Coast Guard will assist the Marine Institute with the initial delivery of the course by providing resources and expertise. As well, Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service will host an information session during each training course to provide an overview of its role in the event of a spill, and give fisheries workers information on oiled birds. Fisheries workers will receive accreditation from the Marine Institute for the program, and certified fish harvesters will receive credits toward certification upgrading from the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board.

ACOA is providing funding for this initiative under the Business Development Program, which offers non-commercial investments to support the promotion of entrepreneurship, trade, marketing and education through industry, community, youth and business associations.

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