Minister Wilkinson and MP Fraser in Tangier for discussions about conservation on the Eastern Shore
August 15, 2019
Halifax, Nova Scotia - Today, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and Member of Parliament for Central Nova, Sean Fraser were in Tangier, Nova Scotia to meet with fish harvesters and other invested Nova Scotians to discuss ideas regarding conservation of the unique ecosystem on the Eastern Shore.
Local communities have long been concerned with the conservation of the unique natural ecosystems found on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. However, recent discussions relating to the potential establishment on a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in this region has generated questions and concerns on the part of many who live in the area.
During an initial visit to Tangier on May 8, 2019, Minister Wilkinson indicated that no timeline existed for completing discussions and that options existed with regard to if and how best to move forward. The Minister also committed that he would return for additional discussions once the lobster season was completed, and has now done so.
During discussions that took place today, Minister Wilkinson committed to a broad and inclusive process focused on conservation – one that would ensure that the voices of all impacted local parties are heard and are integrated into any decision making process. That is why, the Minister today announced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ (DFO) commitment to two important next steps:
- DFO will be appointing a community facilitator. This person will be mandated to meet with, discuss and carefully consider the priorities of local community members and organizations. A key part of this facilitator’s mandate will be that they work to ensure that the conservation priorities of local community members are reflected in any eventual outcomes. This could include community involvement in the management of any conservation areas — if in fact one were to go forward.
- There is no defined timeline for the completion of these conservation related conversations. The Minister indicated that, in his view, conservation measures can only likely be successful if substantial support exists from local communities. He further underlined his commitment to working with all key stakeholders to develop a common vision.
In addition to discussing next steps regarding conservation, the Minister also indicated that DFO has recently completed initial drafts of a number of ecological risk assessments for the Eastern Shore, including for aquaculture and marine transportation. The results of these assessments are relevant to future considerations regarding conservation priorities and will be the subject of discussion with local stakeholders before they are finalized.
A summary of these assessments will be made public this week, and the full technical document will be made available soon. One key finding in these assessments, which had previously been communicated, is that lobster harvesting in the Eastern Shore is fully compatible with a Marine Protected Area, should one be established.
“The Eastern Shore is an incredibly unique coastal area that provides a home to species like salmon, cod, and sea turtles. It also supports the livelihoods of many harvesters through the vibrant lobster fishery. Recent scientific reports indicates that this area is particularly susceptible to the impacts of industrialization, climate change and the biodiversity loss associated with warming oceans. Our government is committed to working closely with the local community to ensure we effectively protect and conserve this unique place for those who live and make their living there.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
In March 2018, a scientific advisory process was held to review the key biological and ecological features of the Eastern Shore Islands area. The final report outlined that the area remained a highly natural, unique habitat, with many depleted species of fish, birds, and sea turtles living within the area. The report is available online.
The Government of Canada is committed to keeping the benefits of fishing in the hands of independent fish harvesters and their local area by supporting strong independent inshore fisheries, like the lobster fishery on the Eastern Shore.
Effective conservation takes time and careful planning. The Government of Canada is committed to taking the time required in order to implement community-based measures that will both conserve the marine environment and grow the local economy.
The Government of Canada has met and exceeded our marine protection targets. Today, nearly 14% of Canada’s oceans have protections.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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