Longhorn beetle battle continues for forest industry
'The pest doesn't pay attention to paperwork or county lines'
Nova Scotia's forestry industry is fighting a federal government plan to impose new restrictions on the movement of wood in the province.
Ottawa says the expanded measures are needed to slow the spread of an invasive species — in this case, the brown spruce longhorn beetle.
The current requirements demand movement certificates for roundwood harvested and transported within areas known to be infested with the brown spruce longhorn beetle.
Primarily that is the Halifax County area. Only certified mills can handle the wood.
The federal government is proposing to increase the area where there are restrictions and industry is fighting back.
In September, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency proposed extending restrictions to eight counties from Lunenburg to Antigonish and up to the New Brunswick border.
Jeff Bishop is the executive director of the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association and says any new restrictions won't help.
"Increased regulatory red tape is not going to do anything to prevent that pest from spreading," he said.
Bishop argues the beetle has become a secondary pest, far less damaging than native bark beetles.
"It's not doing any significant damage to the forests of Nova Scotia," Bishop said.
In September, the CFIA acknowledged the beetle poses less risk than previously thought and the Nova Scotia government wants it deregulated. Deregulation would eliminate CFIA surveillance, management and enforcement efforts.
Bishop said they joke the pest doesn't pay attention to paperwork or county lines.
"That's one of the reasons we are struggling," Bishop said. "Why would we expand red tape? The industry needs to go through and see if the existing system is working."
The industry outlined its objections in a letter to federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in October.
Signatories to the letter included some of Nova Scotia's largest forestry companies, including Port Hawkesbury Paper, Northern Pulp and JD Irving. Many major sawmill owners also signed it.
Despite the support for deregulating, the CFIA said in its management decision document that deregulation will come eventually but for now expanded measures are required.
Neither the CFIA nor the Nova Scotia Department of Resources would answer questions Monday.