Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Management plan for oceans needs strengthening

The Federal Conservatives have taken the bulk of the blame for the lack of any consistent and workable Management plan for the oceans off the North Coast.

Both representatives of the Living Oceans Society and the David Suzuki Foundation found fault with the attitude of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and the attention that has not been paid to the eco systems in our area waters.

In a Daily News article, the two groups outlined how they believe the Federal Government has reduced the importance of management of the oceans in any comprehensive fashion.

The findings made for a background piece on their concerns in Monday's paper.

'Oceans stake-holders no longer at table'
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, September 22, 2008

Page one

The David Suzuki Foundation and the Living Oceans Society are calling for the teeth to be put back in the mouth of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area.

Jennifer Lash, executive director of Living Oceans, said Friday that PNCIMA has weakened since it was initiated by the federal government in 2002 and that it is not meeting.
Lash wants to put North Coast stakeholders back at the table.

"There is no integrated plan for this region," said Lash. "I've talked to a lot of people around the North Coast and what I hear is there are a lot of ideas about the health of the ocean and how it should be conserved."

Lash said that some of the separate fisheries have been attempting to do integrated management, like ground fish fisheries in to a more coordinated plan, but she said that is only a "piece of integrated management."

"What we need to do is look at the ocean as a whole - as an eco system - and look at what it can handle in terms of resource extraction, tourism and development, and how do we best mange that?" said Lash.

In 2002, the ruling Liberal federal government began the process of a management plan for the North Coast. However, since then, both the Suzuki Foundation and the Living Oceans society said nothing has been done to implement it.

Lash blames the Conservative government for letting the plan slip to the floor.

"They have initiated smaller programs where they do one-off marine protected areas but they have steered away from the comprehensive approach which is really disappointing," said Lash.

"The government needs to put the money in place so that a dialogue can be opened up so that we can talk with the people who live here and so that they can be part of building this vision for the future," said Lash.

The PNCIMA covers 88,000 kilometers of the Pacific Ocean coast from the top of Vancouver Island to the southeastern tip of Alaska. There are 32 at-risk species that swim in the waters and much of how the marine ecosystem works, considered to be one of the world's most volatile and sensitive, is unknown.

"Up to 10 times as many juvenile rockfish are found in the Hecate reef as are found in the surrounding areas," said North Coast MLA Coons.

"Obviously, if we want a viable rockfish fishery, if we want to protect these species, we have to protect the reef."

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