DFO will talk to Nova Scotia about growing number of marine protected areas

In April, Nova Scotia asked Ottawa to stop making additional designations until other provinces and territories reach the same numbers achieved off Nova Scotia.

Province is concerned more marine protected areas will have a negative impact on Nova Scotia's economy

This dumbo octopus from the Sable Gully marine protected area received its name because of the large fins located on either side of its head. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will meet with the province to discuss its concerns about the growing numbers of marine protected areas being designated off Nova Scotia, a department spokesman says.

In April, the province asked Ottawa to stop making additional designations until other provinces and territories reach the same numbers achieved off Nova Scotia.

The McNeil government is concerned the creation of more marine protected areas will have a negative impact on Nova Scotia's economy. Marine-protected designations restrict human activities like fishing and offshore energy development.

Vance Chow, a DFO spokesperson, said in an email that Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic Leblanc "welcomes the input from his provincial colleagues." The email said the minister is looking forward to Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers meetings this week in Whitehorse where he will meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts.

It's the first time DFO has publicly acknowledged or responded to Nova Scotia's concerns.

The department says it has identified dozens of potential areas for protection in coastal and ocean waters off Nova Scotia.

"The large number of sites would refer to marine areas that DFO has identified, through science, that may be of interest for future protection," Chow wrote.

"These areas have been identified as part of the early stages of MPA network development. These areas are then subject to consultation and more work to determine what, if any, marine protection may be required."

DFO has held seven public meetings in Nova Scotia to discuss its plan to protect five per cent of Canada's oceans by the end of 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020.

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Paul Withers

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Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.