Marilyn Slett, Chief of the Heiltsuk First Nation, says up to 50 clam fishermen will be out of work this winter due to the oil spill near Bella Bella.
Salvage crews for the Nathan E. Stewart tug boat, which ran aground on Oct. 13, have recovered more than 40 per cent of the 200,000 liters of fuel estimated to be in the vessel.
But much of the damage has been done, and Chief Slett says it’s not just the wild life which will suffer.
“Within a few weeks, we would have been opening up a clam harvest, that would have been 50 harvesters that would go out and harvest Gale Passage and that would get them through the winter so we’re really worried. What are they going to do for Christmas? What is our community going to do? What are they going to do next year? They won’t be able to do it, that fishery will be closed.”
It’s almost two weeks since the initial spill, and the effects on some livelihoods in the community will soon start to show.
“That’s the main winter economy in our community for the clam fishermen, for those harvesters so they’re displaced. Words really can’t express the impact that it’s going to have on our community.”
Clean up crews say that a boom containing the spill, which hadn’t been working, has now been replaced but crews continue to face harsh weather as they attempt to work in the area.