Nova Scotia fisheries minister raises concerns about potential no-fish zones

Nova Scotia fisheries minister raises concerns about potential no-fish zones

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's fisheries minister says he's worried about Ottawa's plans to establish marine protected areas along the province's Eastern Shore, saying he wants to know if the proposal will include no-fish zones.

Keith Colwell said he's particularly concerned about the area's lobster fishery because it provides good jobs in a low-employment zone.

There's been no word from federal officials on whether the protected areas will include no-fish zones.

The Eastern Shore is the first area along the province's coast being considered for marine protected areas. Ottawa has promised to protect 10 per cent of Canada's oceans by 2020.

"They (federal officials) are talking about 25.5 per cent of the province being a marine protected area, so where's it going to end?," Colwell said following Thursday's cabinet meeting.

"Marine Protected areas are important . . . but if it destroys our economy, how can we justify it?"

Colwell said he wants the federal government to know that it has to protect areas in a way that allows fishing that also respects the environment.

"We want to make sure that we have all the conditions that we can still harvest fish in a non-destructive way so we are not destroying the bottom, so that we are not destroying the ecosystem," he said. 

Colwell said the lobster fishery on the Eastern Shore is a "prime example" of what he is talking about, because fishermen have instituted environmentally friendly practices on their own, including holding large female lobsters that are caught and returning them to the ocean at the end of the season.

"Because of that, it's improved their income and also made the place a very pristine place," he said.

Colwell said he plans to relay his concerns to federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

The Canadian Press