Dept of Fisheries and Oceans Hopes
to "Work Together"
Five Year Sustainability Plan Launched for Eastern Scotian Shelf
by Gail Martin
This past spring, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
released the first draft of 'The Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated
Management' Plan (ESSIM), an initiative that underscores the need
for a coordinated effort by all interested stakeholders.
Under the wing of the Oceans and Coastal Management Division,
the initial draft of ESSIM is being presented to the public between
October 18th and 26th through a series of community workshops,
to insure that 'all perspectives can be reflected' in future revisions
of the plan.
The planning area, known as the Eastern Scotian Shelf (see map)
begins at Ecum Secum in the west and fans out beyond the 200 mile
limit, to the Laurentian Channel which lies to the east of Cape
Breton. According to the Planning Office at the Bedford Institute
of Oceanography, the Eastern Scotian Shelf was given priority
for sustainable 'integrated management' because it is an "ecologically
complex area with a high degree of biodiversity ... and resources
that support our coastal communities and economy".
Notably, the Eastern Scotian Shelf encompasses "The Gully",
the largest submarine canyon on the East Coast of North America.
Lying 360 km southeast of Halifax, the 2 km deep Gully is widely
recognized to be an important ecological region. Sable Island
also lies within the ESSIM planning area. Sable, with its super
fragile ecosystem is Canada's only island restricted to everyone
but scientists and researchers who gain access through special
permission. Adding to the complexity of the region, there are
substantial offshore oil and natural gas deposits in the Eastern
ESSIM is the offspring of a federal initiative that evolved as
a result of the Oceans Act (1997) implemented almost a decade
ago. In 1998, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans determined
that a 325,000 square km area of the Eastern Scotian Shelf needed
a plan that would 'reconcile and avoid conflicts among the various
sectors competing for space and resources'. At the same time,
he announced that the Gully was to be designated a "Marine
increasing number of stakeholder interests in the Eastern Scotian
Shelf includes commercial and recreational fisheries, offshore
oil and gas, marine transportation and commerce, government marine
operations (Coast Guard & Maritime Forces), telecommunications,
First Nations, conservation groups, aquaculture, scientific research,
technology development and recreation and tourism.
Noting that these competing interests are currently managed through
a 'patchwork of regulatory processes' that complicate issues further,
DFO hopes that 'collaborative planning and management coordination'
can be made to work equitably for all sectors. The intent of the
Plan, according to a review document currently being distributed,
is to "make sure that everyone who uses or has an interest
in the area is on the same page".
For more information or to receive a copy of the "Working
Together" overview, call the ESSIM Planning Office at (902)
244-6069 or check
the web at: