Awful Offal: Seafood movers angered by Marine Atlantic crackdown

PORT AUX BASQUES, Nfld. — Some seafood processors in Newfoundland and Labrador are angry over a recent decision by Marine Atlantic to crack down on leaky trucks.

In a tense standoff last week, five truckers carrying live seafood were denied access to the ferry service because fishy-smelling water was leaking from their trucks. They were permitted on the ferry only after the lobster and mussels had been repacked and the spillage contained.

Marine Atlantic says truckers are violating provincial
and federal laws by allowing water to seep into trucks.

While the dispute was resolved within hours, it sparked a media maelstrom on the Rock after a spokesman for a seafood processors group attacked Marine Atlantic in the local press, saying the crown corporation failed to notify the business community that it was tightening its policies on spillage.

George Joyce, executive director of the Seafood Processors of Newfoundland and Labrador, told the CBC that live seafood must be stored under melting ice. “Without that drip water, that cold water, the lobsters would die,” he said. George

Joyce said his members, who include small to medium-sized processors, have been transporting live seafood in the same way for 40 years. In cracking down on the spillage, he said Marine Atlantic is affecting the timely shipment of fresh seafood.

Joyce did not return calls for a direct comment.

However, Tara Laing, spokeswoman for Marine Atlantic, told the truckers were violating both provincial and ferry regulations in allowing water to seep from their trucks. And she refutes Joyce’s claim that truckers hadn’t been notified about the rules.

“These rules have been in place for years,” she says. “We’ve been asking for compliance for quite some time.”

Laing says the offal was a health and safety concern for both passengers and crew. In addition to creating a foul smelling mess on the decks and fishy-smelling air in the passenger areas, Laing says the water was also damaging carpets and affecting air quality.

Gordon Peddle, president of D & D Transport, a Mount Pearl, Nfld.-based carrier, says most carriers who use the ferry service are familiar with the spillage regulations.

“This is a five-year-old rule — we’ve known about it for a long time,” he says. “Most carriers should be compliant with it by now.”

— by Eleanor Beaton

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