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St. Anthony Port Authority mulling options to potential problem

Ernest Simms gazes across the harbour at Murray’s Point. Simms is the chair of the St. Anthony Port Authority.
Ernest Simms gazes across the harbour at Murray’s Point. Simms is the chair of the St. Anthony Port Authority. - Stephen Roberts

Icelandic company may discontinue use of boats with cranes

ST. ANTHONY, N.L.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

CANADA

There are questions about how cargo will be unloaded at St. Anthony if Eimskip moves away from using craned vessels.

Eimskip is a company based in Iceland that ships product stored at St. Anthony Cold Storage.

It currently has two boats with cranes that land in St. Anthony.

Earlier this year, however, the St. Anthony Port Authority received word from Eimskip that it will be removing crane-geared vessels from its fleet.

Port Authority is still waiting on confirmation from Eimskip regarding its plans.

If Eimskip does discontinue use of ships with cranes, it would create a problem for the Port Authority, as it does not have a crane at the wharf.

According to Ernest Simms, chair of the Port Authority, the wharf where Eimskip lands is also not designed to host those types of cranes.

The port authority would, therefore, have to submit a proposal to the federal government to build infrastructure to support a crane at the existing wharf where Eimskip lands on the east side of the harbour.

Simms says the port authority expects Eimskip would be responsible for installing the crane itself, as it did in Argentia last year.

A crane is not something the port authority itself could afford.

The Port Authority, however, wants confirmation of the company’s intentions before it files an application for funding.

Eventually, Simms says the port will require a new 400-foot wharf at Murray’s Point on the east side of St. Anthony harbour.

This wharf would include all the amenities, including a crane, for container ships.

It would also provide a landing site for bigger cruise ships that will be able to enter St. Anthony once the harbour is dredged to make it wider and deeper.

Simms estimates a new wharf would cost between $15-20 million.

The port authority has applied to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for funding and is in the process of developing and submitting another application to a different program.

So it does not want to build infrastructure at the existing wharf since it won’t be needed if funding for a new wharf is approved.

“It puts us in a bit of a bind because we’re looking for a new wharf that would have all of this,” Simms told The Northern Pen. “(And) if we got a temporary structure in place that’s going to cost half a million or a million, whatever it is, what are we going to do with that afterwards?”

Ideally, the port authority is hoping Eimskip will continue to use their own vessels with cranes until the new wharf is ready.

St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald says the town will do whatever it can to support the port authority in ensuring Eimskip can continue to land in St. Anthony.

“It’s an important connection to the world, not only for St. Anthony but for southern Labrador and the island,” says McDonald.

Fish processed all along the Labrador coast and across the Great Northern Peninsula is stored at St. Anthony Cold Storage and shipped out via Eimskip.

Simms adds that boats landing fish here for cold storage also brings business throughout the community.

They want this to continue but there are fewer landings with cuts in shrimp quotas in recent years.

Simms also says some local businesses have recently started shipping into St. Anthony from other ports.

McDonald adds there are other areas of opportunity for more shipping out of the port, include mining development in southern Labrador and a proposed wood pellet on the Great Northern Peninsula.

“There’s lots of opportunity for us to increase usage,” says McDonald.

The Northern Pen contacted Eimskip Canada in St. John’s for comment, but the managing director was unavailable prior to deadline.

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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