Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit August 08, 2012 - 6:29 am

Cargo starts moving onto Iqaluit’s sealift beach

“We’ve been discharging as best we can”

DAVID MURPHY
A forklift lifts a crate at the sealift beach in Iqaluit Aug. 7. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
A forklift lifts a crate at the sealift beach in Iqaluit Aug. 7. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

Cargo is slowly trickling off sealift vessels and into Iqaluit now that last week’s heavy ice in Frobisher Bay has finally started to drift away.

The Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping company’s vessel, the Qamutik, has been offloading cargo when the tide is right and ice stays out of the way.

“We’ve been discharging as best we can,” said NEAS president and chief executive officer Suzanne Paquin. “I’ve never seen this, in 25 years. But we always factor for this kind of thing in our planning and scheduling because every year there is something.”

Paquin said it does cost money when NEAS vessels can’t offload cargo, but that’s to be expected when delivering cargo to the Arctic.

“There is a lot of days and time lost up north, but that’s just the nature of the business we do,” Paquin said. “That’s why it’s very important to do proper planning and proper scheduling.”

Most customers can understand the delay, she said.

“The people that are there, they see that the ice conditions are difficult,” she said.

At Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc., business is almost back to normal. That’s after a difficult July which left one vessel damaged by ice, and another vessel stuck for 16 days in Frobisher Bay.

“These delays are not only effecting Iqaluit, but they are affecting everywhere. They have kind of a domino effect,” said NSSI manager Waguih Rayes, adding it’s having a financial impact on his company as well. 

“It’s certainly a money factor. But we look more to the commitments that we have. Because we know that what we’re handling here is essential services.”

Rayes says it’s “astonishing” how much ice has blown into Frobisher Bay this year — and he blames the unusual ice conditions on climate change.

“This is exactly what happens when you have ice, winds, and a change in the pattern of the winds,” said Rayes. “What we have [seen] recently in Iqaluit, may not be the only case in the future. We might see some situations like that because of global warming. This is to show how bad it can be.”

The ice coming into Frobisher Bay is also multi-year, thicker ice, and “this kind of ice is even worse, because it damages ships,” Rayes said.

One of his company’s ships, the Zelada Desgagnés, sustained damage to its hull when entering Iqaluit in late July and won’t be able to navigate in ice until it’s repaired.

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