Mr. Speaker, in automating B.C. light stations the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is reducing marine safety on the west coast.
The B.C. coastline has long deep fiords, turbulent, dangerous waters and extensive uninhabited areas. It is unique and studies of other coastlines do not necessarily apply to B.C.
A constant flow of cruise ships, freighters, ferries, commercial and sports fishermen, tourists and pleasure boats passes through the inside passage between west coast islands and mainland B.C. More than 15,000 tankers passed through B.C. waters in 1995.
Human staff provide accurate and timely marine aviation weather reports and can observe coastal activity, while automated stations can only transmit a mechanically derived narrower range of data. Should the system malfunction or fail, which has already happened, we court loss of life and/or ecological disasters.
Spending reductions are important but unjustified when they come at the expense of available safety measures on our waterways. In time of danger there is no substitute for a human operated lighthouse.