First, here is the Fisheries and Oceans Media Room, with a map of the current situation and some photos of the rescue operations.
After a week of westerlies, southwesterlies, and a few northwesterlies, there has been great progress. The ice, while still thick and densely packed, has moved offshore in many areas, allowing some boats to free themselves, and making it easier for the Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers to cut channels to let the longliners make it to open water.
- 11 were freed over the weekend
- 8 vessels are still trapped in the ice about 37 km north of Fogo,
- these 8 vessels contain 29 crew, down from 400-600 estimated at the beginning of the rescue,
- psychiatrists and conflict resolution experts are going to have a field day, and showers are going to be in heavy demand,
- in the last two weeks 20 ships travelled south to open ports,
- 72 boats were escorted,
- one longliner was destroyed, the Dodd & Sons,
- one longliner was damaged and required a tow,
- at least 5 were abandoned,
- at least 3 commercial carriers (freighters,tankers, etc) had requested escort assistance,
- and up to 6 icebreakers were involved in Search and Rescue operations, including the Terry Fox, the Ann Harvey, the Henry Larsen, the George Pearkes, the Des Groselliers, and the Sir Wilfred Grenfell.
One of the big problems last week was the solidity of the pack. While it was pushed east by the wind, it tended to stay together, continuing to trap the boats. This week, over the next couple of day there will be strong easterly winds which will gradually back to north and northwest later in the week. This will tend to drive the ice back onto the coast of the Northern Peninsula and the Northeast Coast. The bottom line is that they need to work hard and quickly to get the last eight out before the ice closes in again.
Here is the current ice field map. In addition, there are new ice warnings for the Northeast Coast and the East Coast, as follows:
FICN18 CWIS 301344 Ice hazard bulletin for the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador issued by Environment Canada at 1400 UTC Monday 30 April 2007 for today and Tuesday. The next scheduled bulletin will be issued at 1400 UTC Tuesday.No warnings in effect unless noted. Light to moderate ice pressure may occur in any ice conditions. Ice edge estimated from Newfoundland near 4745N 5245W to 4825N 5125W to 5120N 5230W to 5400N 5215W to 5740N 5845W to 6200N 5920W then northeastward. Sea ice west of ice edge. Strait of Belle Isle. Rapid closing of coastal leads warning in effect. Ice pressure warning in effect. 4 tenths first year ice including a trace of old ice except 9 plus tenths first year ice with a trace of old ice along the south coast. Coastal leads along the north shore will close tonight. Strong ice pressure will develop along the north shore on Tuesday. Northeast Coast. Rapid closing of coastal leads warning in effect. Ice pressure warning in effect. 7 tenths first year ice including one tenth of old ice except 9 plus tenths first year ice with 3 tenths old ice near Cape St John. Coastal leads along the northern peninsula will close on Tuesday. Strong ice pressure will develop east of Cape St. John tonight and persist on Tuesday. East Coast. Special ice warning in effect. Ice pressure warning in effect. 3 tenths first year ice including a trace of old ice northwest of ice edge. Bergy water elsewhere. Unusual presence of first year ice in Trinity Bay. Strong ice pressure will develop in northern half of Bonavista Bay tonight. Ice pressure will ease Tuesday afternoon.
By this time it is clear that the Coast Guard has done an exemplary job, and deserves our respect. This is the largest operation of this type conducted in Canadian waters in my memory, and without loss of life or serious injuries. Thank you!