Protection process prolonged
Department of Fisheries and Oceans extends deadline for public input into proposed marine protected area off Cape Breton.
MAIN-A-DIEU — The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has extended a deadline for public input into a proposed marine protected area off Cape Breton.
The site is one of the six DFO plans to establish across Canada by 2012 to conserve important habitats and species. The government had previously established seven marine protected areas.
“It is a big decision, so we just need to keep talking,” said Maxine Westhead of DFO’s oceans and coastal management division.
Initial plans called for a 60-day consultation period, but people in the fishing and seafood processing industries thought that was not enough time.
That feedback led to the first deadline extension of Feb. 12 and the new deadline of May 14.
DFO is seeking input on three possible areas: Middle Bank, Misaine Bank & Eastern Shoal, and St. Anns Bank.
The St. Anns Bank area covers about 5,100 square kilometres starting just east of Scatarie Island off Cape Breton.
The other two are south and further east, but fishermen and seafood processors have said all three proposed areas would impact on Cape Breton.
Westhead said new information on the socio-economic profiles of the three candidate sites is another reason for the extension.
A meeting to discuss the issue was set to go Wednesday in Main-aDieu, but was rescheduled because some of the fishing industry stakeholders could not attend.
That meeting could go ahead as early as today.
“We’ll ... show them the data as to why it was selected as a potential marine protected area, the key features that we are going to look at protecting and what it could mean on the water.”