Nova Scotia

Poor cell reception dangerous: Canso fisherman

A lack of cellphone coverage is making life dangerous for fishermen, according to a Cape Breton man who works the waters near Canso.

Stan Rogers festival gets coverage, but not year-round

Poor cellphone coverage is making life dangerous for fishermen, according to a man who works the waters near Canso, N.S.

"We have no cellphone service whatsoever. I tried four places the other day in town, and the only place I got it was way up on top of Church Hill," said Sandy Kavanaugh. "Everyone here fishing uses cellphones for calling in."

He said fishermen call for clearance to land with a catch, but can’t do so without reception. That means boats call when they’re already in the harbour and must wait for an hour or more.

He said one fishermen was recently charged for landing early because the reception was bad.

"We can’t go fishing until we get a number to go out, and we can’t come in until we get a number to come in," he said. "If you get a fish, you’ve got to call to get a number so you can land at the wharf."

He said all of the carriers offered poor service. Locals, including fishermen, have petitioned for better service and won the support of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour MLA Jim Boudreau, but the carriers wouldn’t work with them, Kavanaugh said.

"I made at least 75 or 80 petitions, all of the fishermen and some of the people around town that have cellphones, and I can’t get any satisfaction from them at all," he said.

Stan Rogers festival gets extra tower

Kavanaugh said it’s also a safety issue, as many fishermen use their phone as a backup emergency communication device.

"If something happens to your motor and she stops, if you’ve got power, you’ve got a cellphone. If you’ve got service, you can call for help. If your radio dies, you’ve got the cellphone. We can’t get service. It’s time for somebody to do something," he said.

Another fishermen said he’d added a nine-metre antenna and $300 booster to improve reception.

Kavanaugh said clear reception is possible. When the Stan Rogers Folk Festival is held, the carriers erect an extra tower. "You get service while it’s up, but as soon as [the festival] is over they take it down," he said.

CBC News has not yet reached any of the carriers for comment.