McNeil’s op­po­si­tion to MPAs pri­or­i­tizes oil and gas

Tri-County Vanguard - - OPINION -

When Premier Stephen McNeil voices op­po­si­tion to ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas he talks as if he is act­ing out of con­cern for the lob­ster fish­ery, but, in fact, it’s just the op­po­site.

I would have real con­cerns about new ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas if they meant no-take zones. I have spo­ken with the lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal voices on ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas, and none of them are ad­vo­cat­ing for no-take zones on the Eastern Shore, where an MPA is in the plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion process. They rec­og­nize that done right, the in­shore fish­ery is a vi­tal part of a re­new­able ocean econ­omy for Nova Sco­tia.

The re­cently re­leased Fi­nal Re­port of the Na­tional Ad­vi­sory Panel on Ma­rine Pro­tected Area Stan­dards con­firms Ot­tawa is also not con­cerned about lob­ster fish­ing. Rather, Ot­tawa shares the con­cerns of lob­ster fish­ers about heavy in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties, like oil and gas drilling.

McNeil and his govern­ment are re­ally stick­ing up for oil and gas com­pa­nies, not fish­ers. They’ve shown again and again they pri­or­i­tize oil ex­plo­ration over our fish­ing in­dus­try. The Lib­er­als al­lowed BP to drill off­shore with­out hav­ing a cap­ping stack on hand, which is the equip­ment nec­es­sary to mit­i­gate the risks of a spill. And McNeil has ar­gued oil and gas drilling should be al­lowed even in places where fish­ing is not.

Any­time any­one ques­tions McNeil about his sup­port for the fish­ery he puffs up and talks about his trips to China – but we all know all those trips to China won’t be worth much if even a sin­gle se­ri­ous oil spill oc­curs.

MPAs will help, not harm, our lob­ster fish­ery. Prop­erly de­signed MPAs will pro­tect in­shore coastal fish­eries by lim­it­ing heavy in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties that pose risks to the fish­ery, and will cre­ate con­di­tions for a healthy ma­rine ecosys­tem – and low-im­pact fish­ery – for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Lisa Roberts,

NDP Spokesper­son for Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture,

MLA for Hal­i­fax Need­ham

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