Sable Island tourism gets naturalist's backing

A Sable Island expert says opening the remote island to more tourism could actually be a good thing for the area.
Sable's wild horses were the subject of a documentary, Chasing Wild Horses, by a Halifax filmmaker. (Arcadia) (Arcadia)

A Sable Island expert says opening the remote island to more tourism could actually be a good thing for the area.

Zoe Lucas lives on the island and has been studying it for more than 40 years.

Sable Island was a largely off-limits island until it was designated a national park earlier this year. Sable Island is home to an estimated 400 wild horses, descendants of animals brought to the island during the late 1700s. It's also the breeding ground for seals and birds.

Lucas said the federal agency is best able to protect Sable Island.

"It will probably be in many ways more restricted than it has been in the past. There may be more people, but there will likely be areas where Parks Canada is going to say, 'This is a no go, this is a place where we have breeding terns, or particular vegetation that's vulnerable to disturbance,'" she said.

"So, there will be more control and there will be more monitoring of human activities on the island."

Lucas said the island has long had visitors, who arrive by boat, plane and occasionally helicopter. A commercial sea cruise company will make two voyages carrying tourists to Sable Island off Nova Scotia's coast next spring.

"It is good for the island to have tourism. The people who visit Sable Island, they always go away thrilled and impressed in one way or another and almost all of them go away wanting to contribute something," she said.

"They'll pay attention and they'll communicate that, and so it does the island a lot of good for people to see what going on out there."

Lucas will be speaking about tourism history at a public meeting at Saint Mary's University on Tuesday night.


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