Friday, January 07, 2011
The indispensable eye of the lighthouse keeper...
In the last week of 2010 the Dutch Secretary of Infrastructure mr. Atsma presented a X-mas-surprise for the seagoing community: the decision that the lighthouses of Terschelling, Schiermonnikoog stay "manned" in the new year.
This sounds like a drastic change of policy. In recent years the consequent policy of the Dutch Infrastructure Department has always been a hard line of "economization and modernization" (read the posts on Kajakwoerden about Ouddorp 2007, Terschelling 2008). In that policy lighthouses are unmanned. Camera's, radar-devices, computers and a single (on land) Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre take over the tasks of the lighthouse keeper. The Government had already announced that the last keeper would leave the lighthouse on 1 January, 2011 (= last week).
So in the last minute the Dutch government has changed the plans. Well, not completely: the modernization goes on, the Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre will take over a lot of the tasks of the lighthouse keepers, but these 3 last lighthouses will at least stay manned during daylight. The argument of the Secretary of Infrastructure is that the human eye is indispensable. Quote from the video: "the human eye (NL: "het menselijk oog") sees it when a swimmer has a problem, when a boat strands on a sand, when a surfer threatens to get into trouble. The human eye has a wider perspective than a camera panning form left to right'. Wise words and you can add that there is no replacement for the local knowledge of our Lighthouse keepers!
The new decision of mr. Atsma was probably also (and perhaps more) motivated by the fact that the Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre in the Wadden-region simply is not ready yet...
But let's not grumble to much: for the time being, for the recreational traffic including the seakayaker, this is good news!
On the other side of the Northsea, the British experience the same threats. The UK-Government recently presented "proposals for a modernised, fully-networked national Coastguard that can more flexibly manage the greatly varying demands of its workload. These proposals will enable Coastguard Officers to better use their skills and training with a salary that reflects this. We also want to change and improve the leadership, management and support we give our volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers, and make better use of their local knowledge and training." Nice words, you can't be against such good intentions? But behind these lines hide similar plans to drastically reduce the number of coastguard stations, leaving only a few central stations left for covering huge areas. In several (Scottish) regions campaigns have been launched to try to persuade the UK Government to scrap these plans. Read more about the Scottish situation on the blog of Simon Willis.
Geplaatst door Hans Heupink op 00:04