‘Cove­head Bay is a jewel’

The North Shore Com­mu­nity Coun­cil held a pub­lic meet­ing Thurs­day to dis­cuss the de­vel­op­ment of a Cove­head Bay ste­ward­ship plan

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER mau­reen.coul­ter@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mau­reenEl­izaC

Jeff Law­ley, a long­time sum­mer res­i­dent in Stan­hope, en­joys spend­ing his days do­ing recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties on Cove­head Bay.

“I’m the guy you see on the yel­low sail­boat ev­ery week­end on the Cove­head Bay. When there is not enough wind, I’m the guy with his dog on his standup pad­dle­board. On top of all of that, I can be seen in a power­boat from time to time.”

And when Law­ley isn’t on the wa­ter, he is sit­ting back and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the “beau­ti­ful and ma­jes­tic” vis­tas of Cove­head Bay, he told the crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 130 peo­ple at North Shore Com­mu­nity Cen­tre Thurs­day, most of whom were there to share his con­cerns about the bay’s fu­ture.

Law­ley feels the 92-acre oys­ter leases on the bay com­pro­mise ac­cess since they is lo­cated on what he de­scribes as the best and deep­est wa­ter.

He also notes a “se­ri­ous de­te­ri­o­ra­tion” in the bay wa­ter qual­ity and depth since the in­cep­tion of the aqua­cul­ture farm in 1994.

“I would be highly op­posed to any fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the aqua­cul­ture farm as it would ren­der the bay use­less for recre­ational pur­poses.”

Many res­i­dents echoed Law­ley’s sen­ti­ments dur­ing a pub­lic meet­ing, hosted by the North Shore Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, to dis­cuss the de­vel­op­ment of a Cove­head Bay ste­ward­ship plan in an ef­fort to en­sure a healthy bay for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Coun. Kent Ma­cLean said this plan would seek to ad­dress aqua­cul­ture fish­ing, com­mer­cial/recre­ational fish­ing, recre­ational boat­ing and the rights of all res­i­dents, vis­i­tors and stake­hold­ers that use the bay to en­sure en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cio-eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity.

“Our fear is that there is no con­trolled plan by DFO (Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans),” said Ma­cLean in an in­ter­view with The Guardian. “We would like to have DFO par­tic­i­pate and put a re­spon­si­ble plan in place for that as­set.”

So far, three meet­ings have been held be­tween the Com­mu­nity of North Shore and the DFO.

“They’ve lis­tened to us, but I’m not sure they heard us, and we are ap­peal­ing to DFO to par­tic­i­pate with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in a ste­ward­ship plan for Cove­head Bay.”

Ma­cLean said con­cerns from res­i­dents be­gan in the fall of 2016 when black oys­ter cages be­gan ap­pear­ing in Cove­head Bay.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity learned from the DFO that it had re­ceived an ap­pli­ca­tion to con­vert a por­tion of the 92-acre mus­sel leases to “off-bot­tom” oys­ter leases.

“Their man­date is to grow the aqua­cul­ture econ­omy on the bays,” said Ma­cLean. “Their lens is on the bays, it’s not out to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties around the bays, but what hap­pens in the bay af­fects the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

Ma­cLean said they are con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact since there are many no­tice­able neg­a­tive changes al­ready in the bay, in­clud­ing the loss of rock crab as a species, the growth of eel­grass, the in­tro­duc­tion and growth of in­va­sive species, growth of sea let­tuce and fre­quent and se­vere anoxic events.

Ma­cLean said res­i­dents are con­cerned at the lack of a long-term man­age­ment or sus­tain­abil­ity plan for aqua­cul­ture leases on Cove­head Bay.

“Stan­hope, Cove­head and West Cove­head res­i­dents, which make up the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of North Shore, feel that Cove­head Bay is a jewel.”

The in­for­ma­tion gath­ered at the pub­lic meet­ing will be pre­sented at the next North Shore Com­mu­nity Coun­cil meet­ing to dis­cuss the pos­si­ble for­ma­tion of this Cove­head Bay ste­ward­ship plan.

Malpeque MP Wayne Easter and Pre­mier Wade MacLauch­lan also at­tended the meet­ing and said they both sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of this plan.

MAU­REEN COUL­TER/THE GUARDIAN

Kent Ma­cLean, a coun­cil­lor with the North Shore Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, shows the area where the 92-acre oys­ter leases are lo­cated in Cove­head Bay. Ma­cLean said coun­cil is look­ing to de­vel­op­ment a Cove­head Bay ste­ward­ship plan to help ad­dress grow­ing con­cerns from its res­i­dents re­gard­ing the oys­ter leases and the fu­ture of this recre­ational bay.

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