CHATHAM, Mass. – In “Jaws,” the fictional mayor tried to protect the summer tourism season by keeping a lid on reports of the man-eater lurking offshore. As sightings of great white sharks mount off Cape Cod in real life, however, businesses in the Massachusetts town of Chatham are embracing the frenzy.
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Shark T-shirts are everywhere, “Jaws” has been playing in local theatres and boat tours are taking more tourists out to see the huge seal population that keeps the sharks coming. Harbormasters have issued warnings but – unlike the sharks in the movies – the great whites generally are not seen as a threat to human swimmers.
READ MORE: Is this a shark in Lake Ontario? No, it’s a PR stunt
Among the entrepreneurs is Justin Labdon, owner of the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, who started selling ‘Chatham Whites’ T-shirts after customers who were renting paddle boards and kayaks began asking whether it was safe to go to sea.
“I mean, truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 per cent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel,” he said. The T-shirts, hoodies, hats, belts, dog collars and other accessories bear the iconic, torpedo-shaped image of great whites and sell for between $10 and $45.
He said his store brings in thousands of dollars in sales of the shark-themed merchandise.
Tourists peer through coin-operated binoculars in hopes of catching a glimpse of a shark fin from the beaches of Chatham. The posh resort town is on the elbow of the cape that has a large population of grey seals – the massive animals whose blubber is the fuel of choice for great white sharks. Local shops sell jewelry, candy, clothes, stuffed animals and beverages with shark motifs.
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A study released last month by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found the number of great white sharks off the Eastern U.S. and Canada is surging after decades of decline. Conservation efforts and the greater availability of prey such as Massachusetts’ seals, are credited with the reversal.
Shark sightings have soared from generally fewer than two annually before 2004 to more than 20 in each of the last few years off Cape Cod, where the economy depends heavily on the summer tourism season. Despite notices urging boaters and swimmers to use caution, the official reaction has been nearly the opposite of the panic depicted in “Jaws,” the 1975 film shot mainly on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.
“White sharks are this iconic species in society and it draws amazing amounts of attention,” said Gregory Skomal, a senior marine fisheries biologist who also leads the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, who said people are coming in hopes of witnessing the animals in their splendor. “I have not been approached by anyone who has said to me ‘let’s go kill these sharks.”‘
Skomal said sharks have been coming closer to shore to feed on the seals, which he said have been coming on shore in greater numbers because of successful conservation efforts.
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Confrontations with people are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks – 13 of them fatal – in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.
Still, officials are wary of the damage that could be done to tourism if one of the predators bites a person. Brochures have been distributed to raise awareness of sharks and safe practices in the event of a sighting.
“You have to make sure people understand,” Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross said, “if they go to the beach and they see a family of seals there, that’s probably not the best place to hang out.”
Laurie Moss McCandless of Memphis, Tennessee, has vacationed on Cape Cod every summer since she was a little girl and doesn’t remember hearing about sharks back then. But her son is obsessed with sharks, she said, and she’s hoping to hear more about them on their vacation in Chatham.
“He loves all his sharks paraphernalia,” McCandless, 39, said as she bought a shark-themed sweatshirt for one of her three children.
©2014The Associated Press
SASKATOON – The chair of the board of governors at the University of Saskatchewan is stepping down from her position.
Susan Milburn has spent more than eight years in the position, having been elected to the board in July 2006.
In a statement, the university said it was her intention to honour the spirit of the University Act and not sit for more than nine years.
In May, the university senate voted to allow chairs to stay on for three terms, however the statement suggests Milburn will not seek re-election.
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Leadership crisis at University of Saskatchewan: faculty association
University of Saskatchewan president terminated after controversy
University of Saskatchewan Provost, VP academic resigns
The university has been shrouded in controversy after Dr. Robert Buckingham was terminated as dean of the School of Public Health for speaking out against TransformUS, a cost-cutting measure aimed at reducing the university’s deficit.
The firing of Buckingham led to a public outcry and he was rehired, but not has head of the school.
The fall-out from the firing led to provost Brent Fairbairn resigning from his position.
The board then voted unanimously to oust Ilene Busch-Vishniac as president of the university, replacing her with Gordon Barnhardt on an interim basis.
Milburn was the past president of the U of S alumni association and is a member of the audit, human resources and governance & executive committees.
A new board chair will be elected in October.
TORONTO — It looks like British Airways has been added to Arya Stark’s list of targets.
Maisie Williams, the actress who plays the vengeful daughter of the late Eddard Stark on Game of Thrones, took swipes at the airline over the weekend for kicking her out of an airport lounge.
“Denied from the business lounge once again for being under 18 and without an adult,” she tweeted Saturday. “@BritishAirways sort your s*** out.”
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The airline prohibits passengers under 18 from using the lounge unless accompanied by an adult.
Williams, 17, said she doesn’t expect special treatment.
“Just saying if 16-18 yr olds are grown up enough to travel 5,400 miles around the world I’m sure we can handle sitting quietly in the damn lounge,” she tweeted.
READ MORE: will.i.am tweets anger after being kicked out of airport lounge
Reactions on social media were mostly sympathetic, with some fans suggesting she draw her sword.
Among those coming to her defence was singer Ed Sheeran, who tweeted: “Ah British airways. You failed again.”
The airline responded by tweeting to Williams: “We’re sorry if you were disappointed, lounge guests must be 18 or older. We look forward to welcoming you soon.”
Williams replied: “Fully understand that, my question is why? Why can we travel alone but not use the lounge? It makes no sense.”
The actress appears to be putting the incident behind her.
On the other hand, I’ve had possibly the best week ever and I can’t wait to see what the future brings👽
— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) July 20, 2014
ABOVE: Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa defended the proposed aviation fuel tax hike to reporters at Queen’s Park Monday, saying he believed it would not hurt Ontario airport’s competitiveness
MONTREAL – At a time when other provinces are moving to encourage airline traffic by decreasing or eliminating aviation fuel taxes, Ontario’s decision to hike them will likely boost air fares and put the province at a competitive disadvantage, airline and airport officials say.
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In a budget tabled last week by Ontario’s newly elected Liberal government, Premier Kathleen Wynne has proposed to phase in a four-cent-per-litre increase in the aviation fuel tax to 6.7 cents by 2017. The current tax of 2.7 cents per litre has been in place for more than two decades, but would rise by one cent per litre each year.
The increase, which the government has pledged as part of $29 billion it has dedicated to transit and transportation infrastructure uprgrades in the next decade, is expected to add an estimated $100 million in costs for airlines – cost that will likely be passed on to consumers through higher fares.
“It will cause the ticket prices to go up but you might not notice it because it’s a small portion…of the fuel bill,” said David Tyerman of Canaccord Genuity.
For Air Canada, the estimated $50 million in addition costs represents a fraction of the more than $11 billion it spends annually on fuel, salaries, currency fluctuations and other factors, said Tyerman.
READ MORE: 5 Ontario budget items that will hit your pocketbook
Airlines constantly adjust prices for cost increases and declines, but unlike fuel prices and currency fluctuations that can change rapidly, this tax increase is predictable and will be easier to plan for in advance, the analyst added.
However, the association that represents Canada’s largest air carriers said the tax increase will put Ontario at a disadvantage.
“I suspect maybe other provinces feel they are more competitive now,” said Marc-Andre O’Rourke, executive director of the National Airlines Council of Canada.
He said Ontario’s rate would be “completely out of whack” with other provinces and would be one of the highest fuel taxes in North America. The association is calling for the increase to be put on hold while the implications are studied.
British Columbia became the latest province to eliminate its international fuel tax in 2012, joining New Brunswick, Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Newfoundland and Labrador has no fuel tax for international flights but charges tax for flights to the United States. Manitoba has the highest rate at 3.2 cents, but nothing for U.S. and international cargo flights.
B.C.’s move to eliminate the fuel tax to match nearby jurisdictions in Alberta, Washington state and California cost the government $12 million in annual revenue. But a report said it generated an estimated $20 million in new payroll and consumption tax revenue in the first year resulting from expanded international flights into the province, said Elizabeth Thomson, public affairs officer for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
While some provinces have eliminated fuel taxes on international flights, they all charge for domestic flights, ranging from 0.7 to 3.2 cents per litre. At 6.7 cents, Ontario would be more than double its provincial neighbours. Most U.S. airports charge little or no fuel taxes.
O’Rourke said the province may not receive the full benefit from the tax increase because airlines may decide to fuel at airports outside Ontario to save money.
Douglas Hartmayer, director of public affairs for the operator of airports in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y., sees the tax boosting business on his side of the border.
“I think that anything that widens the gap and makes it more expensive to fly from Canada vis-a-vis Buffalo is going to drive more people to airports in the United States,” Hartmayer said.
More than 2.3 million Canadians a year are believed to use the Buffalo airport, a two-hour drive from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Canada’s busiest travel hub.
Most of the cost difference between Canadian and U.S. airfares is attributable to federal tax, fees and surcharges, said Susie Heath, press secretary for Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa. She said Ontario’s fuel tax is significantly lower than what is charged at airports such as London Heathrow and Paris de Gaulle.
“We know that these changes affect different communities in different ways, which is why we’re working with the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that we are providing relief to vulnerable communities, especially those in remote and northern areas.”
A study led by Fred Lazar, associate economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, concluded the tax hike will hurt the provincial economy, cut jobs and drive away tourists.
He said the provincial GDP would fall between $67 and $97 million in 2017, resulting in a decrease in up to 2,907 full-time jobs and discourage at least 292,000 air travellers.
Lazar calculates the tax will increase air fares between $1.25 to $12 per ticket depending on airport and destination.
That would hamper Air Canada’s efforts to make Toronto’s Pearson Airport a North American gateway and hurt the smaller airline, Porter Airlines, which uses Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport as its network hub.
WATERLOO, Ont. – BlackBerry (TSX:BB) has appointed Marty Beard, the former chief executive of LiveOps, Inc. as its new chief operating officer.
Beard starts immediately and will be responsible for such things as marketing, BlackBerry 10 app development and customer care and quality.
He was chairman and CEO of LiveOps, a provider of cloud applications for customer services. Before joining LiveOps, he was president of Sybase 365, a mobile messaging and mobile commerce services unit, and also worked at computer technology company Oracle.
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BlackBerry executive chairman and chief executive John Chen led a turnaround at software company Sybase before he joined BlackBerry last year.
Chen’s strategy has set aside the consumer market as a priority, after the BlackBerry 10 line of phones failed to become a sales hit and instead focused on building relationships with business customers.
“Marty brings extensive experience in operations, marketing and serving customers through the best technologies and processes available,” Chen said in a statement.
The chief operating officer job has been vacant since November 2013 when Kristian Tear left the company in a restructuring that also saw the departure Frank Boulben, the company’s chief marketing officer.
BlackBerry shares have been under pressure since Apple and IBM announced that they would form a partnership focused on business customers, a key market for Canadian company.
The teaming up of two of the world’s largest technology companies positions them to better compete with BlackBerry, which is trying to reaffirm its position catering to government agencies and businesses that require secure mobile communications.
©2014The Canadian Press