Ma­rine pro­tec­tion plan will hurt crab fish­ing in­dus­try

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

Please con­sider this re­sponse to the news ar­ti­cle (‘ Pro­posal con­fuses crab fish­ers,’ Cape Bre­ton Post, Feb. 8) on the plan that Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) have to in­tro­duce a Ma­rine Pro­tected Area where Crab Fish­ing Area 19 is lo­cated on the west­ern shores of Cape Bre­ton.

In par­tic­u­lar we would like to com­ment on the quotes at­trib­uted to MP Mark Eyk­ing where he makes it clear the move is in ac­cor­dance with gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

While it is true that the Gov­ern­ment of Canada is in­ter­ested in de­vel­op­ing more Ma­rine Pro­tected Ar­eas (MPAs) in Cana­dian waters (10 per cent by 2020) it is also a fact that it does not want those to be es­tab­lished in willynilly fashion. And the prime min­is­ter has given clear guide­lines to all of his min­is­ters how such poli­cies should be im­ple­mented.

MP Eyk­ing said: “One of the key things here is pro­tect­ing their fish stocks. We be­lieve we have one of the best man­aged fish­eries in the world and we want to con­tinue that, we want to make sure that th­ese sen­si­tive ar­eas are pro­tected.”

Th is state­ment is true but it is not be­cause of MPAs. It is be­cause we are ded­i­cated to work­ing with the DFO Science Branch to sus­tain­ably man­age the snow crab stocks in our waters. There are strict rules on this fish­ery and we sup­port the guide­lines that set our quo­tas each year.

De­spite what MP Eyk­ing is say­ing (“I guess we need to do a bet­ter job in ex­plain­ing to fish­ers in the dif­fer­ent ar­eas about the dif­fer­ent types of ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas — it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that in­shore fish­ers would be banned from an area or be un­able to har­vest in an area”) we are not sure why our MP is sup­port­ing this when it ap­pears ob­vi­ous to us that the Oceans Branch want to es­sen­tially sur­round Cape Bre­ton Is­land with MPAs.

The one that is on St Anns Bank is mas­sive and most of that is ear­marked as a “core” zone that can­not be fished. We ex­pect the Oceans Branch will want to do the same to us and it is com­pletely un­fair.

There is one MPA in New Brunswick and it is 7.5 square kilo­me­tres. There is one in Prince Ed­ward Is­land that is 9.2 square kilo­me­tres. The St Anns Bank area is 4,363 square kilo­me­tres. The one planned for our area looks to be twice that. It’s crazy to think that this is a good thing for Cape Bre­ton. From what we un­der­stand there is ab­so­lutely no sig­nif­i­cant science that sup­ports this.

The prime min­is­ter says work to­wards MPAs but do so with the foun­da­tion of us­ing “sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and the pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ple … when mak­ing de­ci­sions af­fect­ing fish stocks and ecosys­tem man­age­ment.” The DFO man­date let­ter also states the prime min­is­ter wants the min­is­ter to “en­sure that de­ci­sions are based on science, facts, and ev­i­dence, and serve the pub­lic in­ter­est.” This ini­tia­tive, mak­ing most if not all of CFA19 a MPA, may help to reach a quota but lit­tle else and de­fies the de­sired goals of the prime min­is­ter.

The prime min­is­ter, in the man­date let­ter di­rect­ing all min­is­ters, says that he is com­mit­ted to “in­vest in grow­ing our econ­omy, strength­en­ing the mid­dle class, and help­ing those work­ing hard to join it. We are com­mit­ted to pro­vide more di­rect help to those who need it by giv­ing less to those who do not. We are com­mit­ted to pub­lic in­vest­ment as the best way to spur eco­nomic growth, job cre­ation, and broad-based pros­per­ity.”

To the con­trary this MPA stands to de­stroy our jobs and the jobs of hun­dreds of peo­ple who de­pend on the snow crab we land at the four ports we fish from. Rev­enues at the wharf this year for crab and lob­ster will be in the range of $ 70- plus mil­lion. Our quo­tas have been higher in the past and they will be again in the fu- ture so this is a rev­enue stream that will grow. Typ­i­cally MPAs are “no fish zones” and should our waters be­come such there will be none of the growth he wants – just eco­nomic de­cline.

So ear­mark­ing our waters will do lit­tle to pro­tect ma­rine life and goes against the fun­da­men­tal di­rec­tives of the man­date let­ter from the prime min­is­ter. How can it be ac­cept­able to con­sider do­ing some­thing in the name of ma­rine pro­tec­tion and put fish­ers, plant op­er­a­tions and many oth­ers through­out our com­mu­ni­ties in dan­ger of los­ing their liveli­hoods? Basil MacLean

Pres­i­dent of the Area 19 Snow Crab Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion Cheti­camp

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