I am writing in response to the article in the Eastern Shore Cooperator about the Community Meeting hosted by the Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore (APES) about the proposed Marine Protected Area held on July 24. APES had felt it was important that the community get the opportunity to hear the same information from the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that other groups such as the Eastern Shore Fishers Protective Organization (ESFPA) had already heard.
Unfortunately, I don't think the article clarified the process of creating an MPA that the meeting was meant to do.
Certainly it is correct that APES did not have a positive experience when it came to community consultation under the regulations for issuing leases for fish feedlots in our harbours. There was no consultation.
However, the process for consultation in creating or not creating a Marine Protected Area seems very different. The DFO wants to hear our ideas. The fishers, businesses, and community organizations of the Eastern Shore will have many opportunities over the next several years to be part of meetings to create an MPA that meets our needs or not.
APES wants to be part of this process. We would like to see an area where high impact, industrial activity such as fish feedlots, oil and gas development, ocean mining, and bottom dragging are prohibited. In addition, many of the APES Board members see the potential for an area where fishers have input into the management of and are part of research conducted. And we see the potential for expansion of low impact tourism and better marketing opportunities for the seafood from this shore.
APES has always supported the lobster fishers in our work to keep our harbours free of fish feedlots and we will continue to support the demands of the lobster fishers of this area to maintain their livelihood whether there is an MPA or not. The fight to keep fish feedlots out of our harbours is not over. The provincial government has been clear in its support of the expansion of fish feedlots in this province, so we feel that it is important for APES to continue in its vigilance.
We are not used to a consultation process with government where our opinions are asked for. But we think in this ongoing discussion of an MPA on the Eastern Shore, we should take this opportunity to say what we want and need for this shore.
--Wendyh Watson Smith
Wendy Watson Smith is President of the Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore