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Eastern Shore residents, fishermen opposed to designation of Marine Protected Area

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is considering implementing higher protections on 2,000 square kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia.
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A lobster fishing boat (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca).

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is considering implementing higher protections on 2,000 square kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia.

But not all people who live and work in the communities affected are keen on the project, which would stretch from Clam Harbour to Barren Island.

"In a country that has very poor laws and regulations protecting their waters, it may have some benefit, but not in Canada, we're already protected," says Tim Kaiser, a homeowner and member of the Association of Eastern Shore Communities Protecting Environmental and Historical Access.

The new designated Marine Protected Area (MPA) would be the Eastern Shore Islands MPA.

MPAs are part of Canada's commitment to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) defines an MPA as "part of the ocean that is legally protected and managed to achieve the long-term conservation of nature."

But Kaiser says that there are already enough federal acts in place to prevent the waterways from being exploited.

"Every square inch of Canadian waters are already the most protected waters on the planet," he tells NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show.

Kaiser lists several acts that are already protecting marine habitats off the coast of Nova Scotia:  the Shipping Act, the Fisheries Act,the Oceans Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Migratory Birds Act, and more.

"Under each of those acts are thousands of applied regulations," he adds.

For example, Kaiser says that when Right Whales were being hit by ships in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in summer 2017, the regulations under the Fisheries Act came into effect.

"Everything was already in place," he says. "The Canadian Government slowed those ships, they moved fisherman's equipment out of the way to protect the whales."

Kaiser says the government is promoting how much tourism an MPA would bring to the Eastern Shore -- about 30,000 tourists annually.

But he says the community doesn't want tourists who could damage the area's ecosystem.

"We've got 30,000 extra tourists showing up here, driving vehicles burning fossil fuels," Kaiser says. "Then they're going to want to go out on a boat tour, which burns more fossil fuels. Then they're going to do some beach stops, where they're out stomping on the ecosystems and damaging habitats."

Kaiser says even garbage left by tourists and the added amount of sewage in the community could be detrimental to ecosystems.

Although the Eastern Shore MPA is currently only an "area of interest" -- the first stage of becoming an MPA -- in early May over 100 lobster fishermen from the Eastern Shore protested the proposal at a town hall event.

"All the fishermen docked their boats and left their days catch in the water to attend this meeting in protest." says Kaiser. "This is how important they thought it was."

Kaiser says that the association has given out over 1,000 signs in protest of the MPA, which are on private properties along Hwy. 7.

"This marine protected area is nothing but a paper park, that the government is using to appease the United Nations," he says. "If they actually cared one bit about these communities, the first thing they would've done is a socio-economic impact study."

 

Note: A previous version of this article stated Kaiser was a member of the Eastern Shore Fisherman's Protection Association. It has been updated to reflect that Kaiser is in fact a member of the Association of Eastern Shore Communities Protecting Environmental and Historical Access.


Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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