Marine protection plan will hurt crab fishing industry
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