New Brunswick

Fishermen's Association says Fundy Centre funding much needed

​After about a decade of lobbying the New Brunswick government, fishermen in Grand Manan celebrated an investment of $4.9 million to expand the Fundy Marine Service Centre Tuesday.

Facility has outgrown the site, which is overflowing with boats, according to Melanie Sonnenberg

Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet (left) and Melanie Sonnenberg, the project manager of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association were on hand Tuesday as the province announced $4.9 million for upgrades to the Fundy Marine Service Centre. (Province of New Brunswick)

After about a decade of lobbying the New Brunswick government, fishermen in Grand Manan celebrated an investment announcement yesterday of $4.9 million to expand the Fundy Marine Service Centre.

The centre, located at Ingalls Head, is owned by the province, but operated by the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association.

The money will be used for extensive site upgrades, which includes a new 200-tonne boat lift, better lighting, paving a portion of the outdoor lot, better access to electricity, and better water access for firefighting. 

"It's a very busy place, and this time of year, given the weather that we've had, everybody wants to get their vessels in and do maintenance before we get into our winter fishery," said Melanie Sonnenberg, the association's project manager.

Sonnenberg told Information Morning Saint John the site is currently a big parking lot overflowing with boats.

"When we opened the yard in 1987, it was built for much smaller vessels, and at that time that was the norm," Sonnenberg said.

"For us, we've just simply outgrown what we started with and this is a segue into a new opportunity for us."

Sonnenberg said when it was built there was no aquaculture industry on the island, and the size of lobster boats are now twice as wide as they were when she started in the industry in 1981.

A decade in the making

Sonnenberg said fishermen on Grand Manan have been asking the local MLA for the upgrades for the last decade.

"It was a really exciting day for us to actually see the announcement come," said Sonnenberg.

The new marine lift — which will be installed before the other work begins — will mean the facility will be able to handle larger boats, said Sonnenberg. 

The one it will replace can only lift 150 tonnes and is also almost 30 years old and starting to show its age, she said.

"This project is going to modernize the Fundy Marine Service Centre and allow its continued service for years to come," said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet in a news release.

"This is a worthwhile initiative that will help the economy of Grand Manan."

Sonnenberg said the announcement couldn't come soon enough as there is already a waiting list of 30 boats trying to get in the yard now.

She said there will be some disruption and displacement for boat owners during the construction phase.