It may not be the usual summer season for Marine Atlantic thanks to COVID19 restrictions, but the ferry service has adapted to ensure that their passengers adhere to provincial and federal guidelines. Summer residents and out of province workers facing challenges to return to Newfoundland have drawn both provincial and national media attention.
What has earned far less notice is the installation of new ticket booths at the Port aux Basques terminal. Currently the Crown corporation is using a combination of both the old and new booths, depending on the volume of traffic.
“This isn’t a regular summer season for us and traffic volumes are much less than we would normally be experiencing,” offers Darrell Mercer via email. Mercer is the Corporate Communications Officer for Marine Atlantic. “When traffic volumes are high, the old booths are processing commercial traffic and the new booths passenger vehicle traffic.”
All of the new booths can handle both passenger and commercial traffic. Even with lighter volumes, just having two sets of booths entering the terminal space is taking a bit of adjustment.
“We are dealing with some space issues regarding the location of the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) inspection station which does impact some of the booths,” concedes Mercer.
For its part, a media representative for the CFIA clarified that vehicles will continue to be processed as usual at the inspection shed.
“The quarantine inspection station will continue to be used as it is currently and there will be no changes to the onboarding process from a CFIA perspective,” clarified an agency representative via email. “The location of the Marine Atlantic ticket booths does not impact CFIA’s operation in Port aux Basques. The inspection of equipment and vehicles leaving Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to occur at the current quarantine inspection station.”
The CFIA established inspection stations in 1968 in Port aux Basques and in Argentia in 1979 to mitigate the risk and and spread of Potato Wart (PW) and Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). Potato Wart was first discovered in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1912, while Potato Cyst Nematode was detected in 1965.
Potato wart is a fungus that renders potatoes unfit for human consumption, while the potato cyst nematode is a roundworm pest which feeds on its roots and can cause a crop yield loss of around 60 percent.