For Immediate Release – June 28, 2017
(HALIFAX) – The Green Party of Nova Scotia rejects the position taken by the McNeil government on marine protected areas and calls for the government to support expanding ocean protection in marine waters surrounding Nova Scotia.
“The McNeil government is ignoring scientific evidence and jeopardizing the health of our oceans,” says Green Party Marine Affairs expert Martin Willison. In 1995, Willison co-edited Marine Protected Areas and Sustainable Fisheries: Proceedings of the Symposium on Marine Protected Areas.
“Even in 1995, the science was clear. Establishing marine protected areas is a necessary component of an overall ocean health strategy. Furthermore, scientific studies have repeatedly shown that setting aside marine areas does not diminish fisheries but enhances them by increasing fish stocks.”
Although the province has no jurisdiction in this regard, the federal government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is influenced by calls from provincial governments. Written statements opposing the expansion of marine protected areas in marine waters have been issued by three provincial ministers in Nova Scotia’s Liberal government: Energy ministers Samson in 2016 and MacLellan in 2017, and Fisheries minister Colwell in 2017.
Canada has committed to protecting 5% of Canadian marine waters by the end of 2017, with a goal of reaching 10% by 2020. Currently about 2.5% of Nova Scotian marine waters are recognized as protected.
Dr. WIllison says, “Protecting only 2.5% is woefully inadequate. The government cannot claim to take an evidence-based approach to environmental management while ignoring evidence.”
Willison notes that while marine protected areas may exclude petroleum exploration and development, this has not been the case in practice. Nevertheless, he says, sensitive marine areas (such as those rich in corals or whales) should not be put at risk by industrial development.
The Green Party of Nova Scotia supports the efforts of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to expand ocean protection in marine waters around Nova Scotia and supports the goal of doubling the total area protected under legislation by end of 2017.