Pro­tec­tion process pro­longed

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil@cb­post.com

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.”

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