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Friday, December 27, 2013

Protesting ‘Santas’ Disrupt Port Metro Vancouver Operations

Anti-coal protestors dressed as Santa Claus and carrying sacks of coal were able to gain access to offices at Port Metro Vancouver and disrupt operations on Dec. 16.

According to a statement released by the port regarding the incident, “a group of masked protestors” illegally gained entry to port offices around 10:15 am and attempted to access a restricted area.

“A number of our employees were physically assaulted and property was damaged during this aggressive act,” according to the statement, which was issued the day of the protest. “We are concerned by the violent actions taken against Port Metro Vancouver and its staff.”

The environmental group Rising Tide has claimed responsibility for the unusual protest, saying that half a dozen Santas were trying to deliver sacks of coal to unspecified port employees to show their opposition to the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) Coal Facility.

Fraser Surrey Docks has a project permit pending with Metro Vancouver to develop the direct transfer coal facility, which would export coal from the US Midwest to Asia and handle up to eight million metric tons of coal annually.

Opponents of the project say that it would result in 17 million tons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year.

After the protest, the Rising Tide group posted a 30-second video on YouTube, showing the protestor Santas being ejected from the port headquarters building.

“The safety and security of our employees is paramount, and we will not tolerate actions which place them in jeopardy,” the port said in its statement. “Everyone deserves a safe workplace.”

The statement also said that port is “working with the authorities” to ensure that “appropriate action is taken and those responsible are held accountable.”

$19 Million Facelift of Canadian Ferry Complete

After a full year out of service, the T-class ferry M/V Tachek, a 44-year-old vessel owned and operated by Canadian company BC Ferries has completed a $19 million life extension project that is expected to allow the vessel to remain in service another 15 years.

The 800-ton ferry spent eight and a half months at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, British Columbia undergoing the majority of the work, plus another three-plus months at BC Ferries’ Fleet Maintenance Unit in Richmond, BC.

Work for the major capital investment project included a new wheelhouse structure, the addition of a hybrid battery system, new engines, asbestos abatement, a new bow thruster unit, complete paint renewal, the elimination of the use of a generator for thruster and secondary power requirements, and more.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to promote our environmental stewardship as well as reduce our overall operating costs,” BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering, Mark Wilson, said. “Overall, this work will result in a significant improvement in safety, reliability and performance.”

BC Ferries says it spends $70 million to $120 million in a year on maintenance, refit and major capital projects. In the past five years, the company’s spent about half a billion dollars on fleet investments.

The 162-foot long, 48-foot wide M/V Tachek, which can accommodate 30 vehicles or 143 passengers, was pulled from service Dec. 15, 2012, and is expected to return to its Quadra Island–Cortes Island route in January 2014.

Study: Washington Maritime Industry Generates Billions

The Washington State maritime industry generated $30 billion in direct, indirect and induced revenues in 2012 and is responsible for over 148,000 workers being employed, according to a newly released study.

The Washington State Maritime Cluster Economic Impact Study, which was finalized in November, was conducted by Seattle-based research firm Community Attributes, and included interviews with over 35 regional leaders in the maritime sector. It sought to quantify the impact of the maritime industry across Washington State in order to better understand and strengthen its contribution to the regional economy.

The study, commissioned by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County with support from the Puget Sound Regional Council, found that maritime wages in general are near or greater than the state median wage of $51,000, averaging $70,800 per year. The maritime industry as a whole paid out nearly $4 billion in wages in 2012, according to the study.

Among the study’s other highlights: fishing and seafood processing accounted for nearly 60 percent of the industry’s revenues, with maritime logistics and shipping accounting for another 25 percent. Also, industry-wide, revenues have grown an average of 6.4 percent per year, with maritime logistics and shipping seeing the highest growth rate at 10.2 percent.

The report also states that the maritime occupations most in demand during the next eight years are expected to be civil engineers; meat and fish cutters and trimmers; sailors and marine oilers; fishermen and related fishing workers; laborers and freight, stock and material movers; and captains, mates and pilots.

Long Beach Harbor Commission Shifts Meetings to Evenings

The Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission, which has typically met during the mid-day during most of its decades of existence, is switching to an evening schedule beginning in January 2014.

The panel’s regular, twice-monthly board meetings are being shifted to 6 pm on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.

The next two meetings are scheduled for 6 pm Jan. 13 and 27 at the Harbor Department headquarters, 925 Harbor Plaza, Long Beach, 90802.

Previously, the Board typically met at 1 pm on the first and third Mondays of each month.

The switch is expected to enable more public participation at the gatherings, something that the port has tried to make happen for years, even going so far as to conduct special meetings at locations off port or City of Long Beach property, such as at nearby schools and community centers.

Although Long Beach is making a switch, the harbor board for the adjoining Port of Los Angeles has no plans to change from a day to night meeting schedule in 2014. For the upcoming year, its meetings are mostly scheduled for at 8:30 am on the first and third Thursdays of each month, with a few rare exceptions where meetings are planned for the second and/or fourth Thursdays.

The Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission’s full meeting calendar for 2014 can be viewed at http://www.polb.com/cals/default.asp.