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Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation

The eKubator Project

Keep The Light On Lighthouses
July 20, 2001
{Author: eBerg Staff}



  The Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation vehemently opposes the automation of staffed lighthouses within the Kittiwake Region.

  The Cabot Island lighthouse off of Newtown is set to be one of the first to be automated in the latest round of changes by Coast Guard. The lighthouse on Cabot Island, located six miles from Newtown, employs four people on a 28-day rotation from June to December.



  “This is an absolutely unnecessary example of withdrawing services with no regard for marine safety, our culture or tourism industry,” explained KEDC Chairperson Louise Pinsent Parsons. “In addition, this measure would eliminate desperately needed jobs in rural communities.”



  In the Kittiwake Zone, there are five staffed lighthouses at Sturgeon’s Cove Head, Exploits Island; Cabot Island, Lumsden; Puffin Island, Greenspond; Long Point, Twillingate; and Bachalao, Herring Neck. The KEDC estimates that the automation of these lighthouses would eliminate 17 jobs in the region, and the provincial job loss is approximated at 45 full-time and 56 casual workers.



  There are also cultural and historic impacts to consider, says Ms. Pinsent Parsons.

  “These lighthouses are Newfoundland icons; emblems of our heritage and a major tourism drawing card,” she said. “Between the four staffed lighthouses in our region, we’re talking about 500 years of history. Long Point was once used to send radio beacons and directions to World War II pilots. Puffin Island was established in 1871. Many of these lighthouses have long traditions of lightkeeping passed through generations. These people don’t just provide a marine service - they are curators of our history, ambassadors of our culture. They provide tours and insight to our visitors. Our heritage cannot be compromised by budgetary measures.”

  There is also a safety issue to consider, Ms. Pinsent Parsons noted.

  “DFO is mandated to maintain a system of marine navigation and communication aids that ensure the safety of those at sea,” Ms. Pinsent Parsons said. “Staffed lighthouses provide an enhanced service - hands-on weather reports, crisis assistance and so on. To say an unstaffed lighthouse provides equal service is to say a robotic lifeguard is watching your children at the pool. Our fishery is tremendously active and productive, recreational boat use continues to grow and shipping continues en force. Our seas are bustling, and there is an inherent advantage in having skilled professionals in our lighthouses to ensure the safety of our oceangoers.”