Com­mu­nity in­ter­est ex­pressed in pi­lot project to mon­i­tor clam flats

‘Stake­holder par­tic­i­pa­tion is key’: En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada

South Shore Breaker - - Wheels - KATHY JOHN­SON TRICOUNTY VAN­GUARD

There is com­mu­nity in­ter­est in a pi­lot project for Shel­burne County that would re­sult in reg­u­lar test­ing for biotox­ins and wa­ter-qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing of lo­cal clam flats.

The flats im­pacted are ones that have not been tested since be­ing closed to recre­ational har­vest­ing five years ago.

Three meet­ings with in­ter­ested stake­hold­ers were held by En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Con­trol Canada, the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency (CFIA) and the fed­eral De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) in Shel­burne Dec. 10 and 11 to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of ini­ti­at­ing a com­mu­nity-based, al­ter­nate ser­vice de­liv­ery pi­lot project for the Cana­dian Shell­fish San­i­ta­tion Pro­gram (CSSP) in Shel­burne County.

About 15 peo­ple from Queens County through to Clare at­tended the meet­ing for recre­ational har­vesters, where a great deal of in­for­ma­tion was shared about the CSSP pro­gram and the lo­cal sit­u­a­tion when it comes to clam dig­ging.

As it is now, CSSP pro­gram de­liv­ery of har­vest ar­eas in Shel­burne County hasn’t been con­ducted since 2013 due to lim­ited re­sources, said Chris Roberts, re­gional ma­rine wa­ter-qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing man­ager for En­vi­ron­ment Canada. “Cur­rently all CSSP re­sources are fully com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of known high and medium-pri­or­ity har­vest ar­eas,” he said.

With in­creas­ing de­mand for the ex­pan­sion of ac­cess to shell­fish har­vest ar­eas across Canada, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is look­ing to in­crease the in­volve­ment of stake­hold­ers in CSSP de­liv­ery to sup­port pro­gram ex­pan­sion, said Roberts, with Shel­burne County one of three ar­eas across Canada se­lected to ex­plore al­ter­na­tive ser­vice de­liv­ery ar­range­ments. “Stake­holder par­tic­i­pa­tion is key to main­tain­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion or to es­tab­lish clas­si­fi­ca­tion in new ar­eas,” he said.

Most coastal wa­ters in Canada and in Nova Sco­tia are un­clas­si­fied when it comes to har­vest­ing shell­fish, said Roberts, which is also an al­ter­na­tive. An un­der­uti­lized har­vest area can be de­clas­si­fied, mean­ing it would re­turn to un­clas­si­fied wa­ters and there would be no test­ing to de­ter­mine if the shell­fish was safe for con­sump­tion. Un­der that sce­nario, peo­ple could dig for clams and not be break­ing the law, even though it’s only rec­om­mended peo­ple har­vest in ar­eas that have been tested un­der the CSSP.

Shel­burne County Fish and Game As­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber Rahn O’con­nell vol­un­teered the as­so­ci­a­tion “as one group that might help get the ball rolling” on an al­ter­na­tive ser­vice de­liv­ery pro­gram.

He suggested mu­nic­i­pal units in the county “could part­ner with us on this project.”

Barrington War­den Ed­die Nick­er­son said he was “will­ing to step up to the plate” and would take the idea to his fel­low coun­cil­lors for fur­ther dis­cus­sion, as well as con­tact other mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in the county.

In or­der for the pi­lot project to pro­ceed, a pro­posal would have to be drafted in ac­cor­dance with the CSSP guide­lines that would out­line the pro­po­nents’ com­mit­ment sup­port­ing the cost of mon­i­tor­ing and anal­y­sis, and on­go­ing test­ing of wa­ter qual­ity and biotoxin lev­els. If the pro­posal is ap­proved, the CSSP will com­mit to pro­vid­ing train­ing and over­sight to the third party con­duct­ing pol­lu­tion source sur­veys, in­ter­pret­ing and re­port­ing on the wa­ter-qual­ity and biotoxin data and reg­u­lat­ing har­vest­ing.

In an in­ter­view fol­low­ing the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion, Roberts said there was ex­cel­lent par­tic­i­pa­tion at the meet­ing with the Indige­nous com­mu­nity, but not as large a turnout at the meet­ing for those in­ter­ested in com­mer­cial har­vest- ing. “The best feed­back and par­tic­i­pa­tion we had was this af­ter­noon from the recre­ational har­vesters,” he said.

Roberts said if peo­ple want to get in­volved, it would be good to get pro­pos­als in by the end of Fe­bru­ary or the first of March, which would “give us enough time to look at it and see if it makes sense” and make any nec­es­sary changes. Roberts said the hope is to start test­ing by next sum­mer.

Any­one in­ter­ested in par­ticip- at­ing in an al­ter­na­tive ser­vice de­liv­ery ar­range­ment for the CSSP in Shel­burne County can con­tact An­gela Smith at the Canada Food In­spec­tion Agency at 902-742-0865 or an­[email protected]

Kathy John­son

From left, act­ing area man­ager for DFO Mark Con­nelly, Barrington mu­nic­i­pal War­den Ed­die Nick­er­son, DFO of­fi­cer Dan Fleck and En­vi­ron­ment Canada rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul Japiezien talk about clam har­vest­ing and the po­ten­tial pi­lot project for Shel­burne County that would see clam flats in the area reg­u­larly tested for biotox­ins and wa­ter qual­ity.

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