Coast Guard tallies high cost of freeing trapped fishermen
The Coast Guard says it went over budget by nearly $3 million to rescue fishermen trapped in ice off Newfoundland's northeast coast this spring.
Nearly 100 vessels were stuck in heavy ice. Somewere also stuck off Labrador and Quebec's lower east shore.
Gary Sidock, the CoastGuard's director general of fleets, says all of the overspending is being attributed to the seal hunt, slowedsignificantlyby a stunning amount of ice that prevented vessels from moving.
Some sealers were never able to make it to the hunt, while others were trapped while returning home, some for as long as three weeks.
Over that time, the Coast Guard sent supplies, broke through ice and rescued the sealers. Sidock maintains the cost would be much lower, if they had modern equipment.
"As with any new piece of material, ship, aircraft, whatever, modern icebreakers can have much better capability in terms of what they can do," he told reporters during a conference call Friday.
"This was a very unusual event, absolutely, but more modern ships, more robust ships, would have been much more helpful, of course."
In total, the CoastGuard says the budget peaked at $3.4 million, butit had only allotted a little over half a million for those operations.