Today Is:

click HERE for today's weather

Nova Scotia 
Vacation Info


all rights reserved 2006-2010    
Nova Scotia TODAY 
Timothy Gillespie    
Box 917      
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0  



20feb2009: Canadian lobster gear suspected in right whale injuries... floating rope ban by be adopted by DFO.. Canadian fisheries officials may follow the U.S. in banning a common lobster-trapping system that's been implicated in life-threatening entanglements of the endangered North Atlantic right whale, according to reports on Canwest News Service.
     An unprecedented number of North Atlantic right whales have been found tangled in fishing rope this winter off Georgia and Florida – and scientists are searching where the marine giants that summer off New England may have picked up the gear. 
     The Maine Lobsterman's Association has been opposing some provisions of the U.S. ban, citing "burdensome" prohibitions. They also say that "the burden must be shared by Canada and others... who are currently not held accountable for protecting marine mammals"
    The specific feeding regime of right whales makes them susceptible to surface fishing gear entanglements, according to some whale experts

20feb2009: Culture sector growth industry worth $84.6 billion and 1.1 million jobs says Creative Economy Report... A report on building the creative economy in Nova Scotia will be launched at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm, at the Dalhousie Arts Centre by arts group, Nova Scotia CAN. The report's authors say that arts and culture are a way of creating wealth at a time that Nova Scotia desperately needs it. "There has been an unprecedented growth in creative industries in the last 10 years," Leah Hamilton, co-author of the report told The Herald... >>> Herald story    >>> read report

Food inspections online shows KFC, Tim's as major violators... The new online food establishment reporting system touted by the Nova Scotia government as being surprisingly very popular with Nova Scotia diners shows some restaurants more than likely to have multiple violations.
     For inspection reports in January, Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in the province showed the most violations, with an average of 1.3 per unit inspected. Of the seven MacDonald's inspected a total of eight violations was found and Dairy Queen had three offences in four inspections.
     Tim Hortons franchises showed a 42% violation rate, with six of the most egregious violators sharing 18 violations. Sixty per cent of the Canadian Legions inspected were cited, as were 25% of the Subway locations. Pizza looked to be one of the safest bets in the fast food category, with few violations from the many provincial locations.
     Random selections of eateries in five towns showed violation rates below 25%.

What the Nova Scotia government has planned for Cape Cod...crimes and misdemeanors on Georges Bank... One of the luxuries of living on or around Cape Cod is that there were once certain things one could count on. The New York Times would ignore much of what matters,  Times readers will invade the peace and quiet in the summer, and one could count on a cooperative and friendly attitude from the neighbors to the east in Nova Scotia >>> read the full story in Cape Cod Today.

NS fishing industry in crisis... A new report from GPI Atlantic says concentration on just a few species in Nova Scotia’s fishing industry could spell trouble.
     The report says that the fisheries’ vulnerability can be traced to overfishing of many species of larger fish at the top of the food chain off Nova Scotia. Those include cod, other groundfish and sharks. That means the fishery is increasingly dependent on species lower on the food chain, such as lobster and other shellfish.   >>> more

9jan2009: Spring election on its way... Tories say to expect a negative campaign... in an internal memo leaked to the Halifax Herald, provincial Tory campaign manager Kevin Lacey told party execs and MLAs to be ready for what looks like a June election.... >>> more 

7jan2009: Georges Bank Task Force members dispute early conclusions of safe oil & gas drilling...  A news release heralding a committee conclusion that "oil and gas can be developed on the currently protected Georges Bank  area with minimal effect on the environment" has riled committee members before any public meetings are held.
Oceans First Task Force steering committee members and industry observers are surprised and dismayed at the recent - and they say, premature - assertions by the committee chairman that, based largely on a government-sponsored trip to meet with oil industry executives in Norway, the committee has concluded that drilling and fishing can coexist peacefully. Yarmouth lawyer Clifford Hood has been named by Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt as the chairman of the "Oceans First Task Force", funded by a $150,000, two-year grant from the Nova Scotia Department of Energy. The group is charged in its contract with the department with examining economic opportunities from offshore oil and gas operations in the sensitive Georges Bank region, including environmental and social risks, then reporting back to the government.
     Yarmouth lawyer Clifford Hood has been named by Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt as the chairman of the "Oceans First Task Force", funded by a $150,000, two-year grant from the Department of Energy. The group is charged in its contract with the department with examining economic opportunities from offshore oil and gas operations n the sensitive Georges Bank region, including environmental and social risks.
    The contract with the South West Shore Development Authority includes the hiring of an offshore energy opportunity officer and SWSDA has hired former Yarmouth harbour master Garth Atkinson as what Hood refers to as " a researcher" on the project. When first questioned about the funding, a senior department official told NST that "we have never heard of Oceans First and we are not funding something like that." Subsequent inquiries to the department resulte4d in some documents being produced
    Hood says that the task force is still in the steering committee stage and includes representatives from the fishery, unions, business and environmentalists. Hood would not divulge the names of the committee, but NST has learned that it includes several players who are known to support offshore drilling in the region.  The committee will be expanded soon, according to Hood "to include a broad, community-based consultation group from South West Nova Scotia."
Who's Who...     Hood said in a news release that the steering committee began their work with a trip to Norway for "intensive discussions with industry and government."  Those attending the government-funded trip included Energy Minster Hurlburt, Health Minister Chris d'Entremont,  several department staffers, SWSDA CEO Frank Anderson and chair Rod Rose, Yarmouth politician Bryan Smith, Woods Harbour lobester fisher Sandy Stoddart, Yarmouth fishermen Hubert Saulnier, fish processor Bee d'Entremont, representatives of DFO and Natural Resources Canada plus Dan Earle of the Tusket River Evironmental Protection Association
It's a road trip... Despite Norway being seen as an international model for coordinating the many competing interests in the ocean habitat, steering committee members say that, to their surprise, the Norway trip was exclusively focused around oil and gas drilling and that the group did not meet with any fishing industry or environmental experts. The group met with representatives of the Norway Petroleum Protectorate, the Safety Directorate and Petrocan Norway
      Discussions with the department about forming the task force began in the spring and, despite the contractual mandate to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation and prior to any local, scientific or fisheries consultations, the steering committee has, according to chairman Clifford Hood, already concluded that "it is possible to conduct seismic testing and oil and gas drilling in sensitive areas," and that "oil and gas can be developed on Georges Bank with minimal effect on the environment."
Bruce Cameron
, who is overseeing the project for the department, refused to comment on record about the Task Force.
What about the fisheries?... in the lengthy assessment in 1999 surrounding the review of the existing Georges Bank oil & gas moratorium there was extensive review and industry consultation prior to any assessments made about effects on fish stocks in the region. "There is a definite rebounding of fish stock in the Georges Bank," says Denny Morrow, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fishpackers Association, representing more than forty fish processors in the area. "A huge haddock biomass is there, as well as scallops and cod and the lobster stock is terrific."  It's the one place between cape Cod and Newfoundland that there is a palpable recovery of the groundfish stock, he adds.
     There is also strong indication, says Morrow, that the large herring population fished by U.S. East Coast fleets are spawning on the Canadian portion of the Bank. "For this committee to say oil & gas development is OK there with no facts whatsoever behind them is laughable." Morrow says that, rather than taking an objective look at the economic and environmental issues at hand, it appears as though the Task Force is being used politically to build support locally for a lifting of the moratorium.

Locals only...  Public meetings with "stakeholders" and interested parties are planned for communities throughout Yarmouth, Digby and Shelburne Counties, says Hood. "We are trying to make something in this region," he told SCT, "and not get overwhelmed by a Halifax-centered mentality." As for including the Ecology Action Centre or other groups located outside south west Nova Scotia, Hood expressed little interest. "God bless the EAC," said Hood, "but they are not the only people who know anything about oceans."
     Hood, who was previously a petroleum engineer, admits to generally having a pro-drilling stance on the issues at hand. "I was vocal about being opposed to the moratorium ten years ago, so people won't be surprised where I stand today."
Who's doing what to who?... Hood's release about the conclusions reached by the steering committee based on the Norway trip came as a surprise and disappointment to some of the attendees. "I would never draw those sorts of conclusions without fully assessing the facts and the science," says senior DFO scientist Ted Potter, who will be heading up the DFO-led federal internal study group to assess the Georges Bank moratorium issue.
     Dan Earle, former coastal planner and environmentalist, says that the assertions by Hood do not represent the work of the steering committee, as the issue was never discussed in any meetings. In fact, says Earle, there has been little activity with the committee since the Norway trip. "One issue we did have was the lack of independent science surrounding the impacts of siesmic testing. We asked to have someone come to us to make a presentation and were told it would be looked into." 
90 days and counting... The contract requires Hood, Atkinson and SWSDA to produce the results of the 2008-2009 work plan delivered by March 31 and to have a 2009-2010 work plan by January 31.  A department spokesman told NST via email on Monday, that although the department was not aware of who would be doing the work for the Task Force, that the Minister and staff expect the "deliverables" timeline to be met. 
     The March 31 report includes a review of oil and gas experience in eight Nova Scotia counties, reviewing capabilities in southwest Nova Scotia, establishing a skills assessment methodology, description of work with stakeholder committees and information sessions, plus dissemination of results of the public sessions. (Scope of work can be viewed here
>>> See Herald story here

6jan2009:Expense release slammed... The South West Shore Development Authority’s top executive spent almost $26,000 on travel, mostly within Nova Scotia, during 2005-06, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
After losing a lengthy legal battle over public disclosure the Yarmouth-based government agency provided the travel expenses of chief executive Frank Anderson to Shelburne resident Adelard Cayer last week. >>> more

5jan2009: NDP calls for SWSDA audit... $1 million-plus unaccounted for...  Shelburne County MLA Sterling Belliveau called on the  Office of the Auditor General on Monday for a full provincial independent audit of the South West Shore Regional Development Authority’s handling of the sale of the Sandy Point sound stage and the boys’ school. 
      “The residents of Shelburne have been calling for an audit for more than a year,” says Belliveau. “The questions being asked are not going to go away. Residents want, and deserve, to know that the money from these sales will be utilized within Shelburne County. It’s time for the Auditor General to step in and investigate this situation.”
       The proceeds from the sales were intended for the five municipal regions of Shelburne County, Belliveau added. Frank Anderson testified in court in December of 2007 that, as SWSDA CEO, he had spent all of the near $700,000 from the boy's school before a penny was distributed to local municipal coffers and they were now "merely an accounting entry." SWSDA's audited financial statements for the year account for only $750,000 of the $1 million in cash paid by Seacoast Entertainment Arts on the $2.75 million sale of the film studio
    In 2007, more than 500 Shelburne County residents signed a petition calling for an audit of SWSDA books and a meeting with senior government officials, neither of which took place. At that time, NDP leader Darrell Dexter and liberal leader Stephen McNeil both asked for SWSDA audits.
     Lockeport Mayor Darian Huskilson was a former SWSDA executive member and treasurer until he was recently turfed in a "restructuring" of the board. He has been an outspoken critic of some of the business practices of SWSDA, especially what he considered back room dealing on the sale of the Boy's School to a friend of Anderson's. Huskilson told SCT that, any politics aside, there has been considerable public interest in "getting to the bottom of a murky situation," with the finances of SWSDA. Huskilson added, "the public has an absolute right to have a full accounting of public monies."

Note:  SWSDA has also recently been awarded a $150,000 contract with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy to coordinate a task force designed to promote oil and gall drilling on the currently protected and lucrative Georges Bank fishing grounds. 

4jan2008: Right whale breeding ground found in Gulf of Maine?... A large number of North Atlantic right whales have been seen in the Gulf of Maine in recent days, leading right whale researchers at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center to believe they have identified a wintering ground and potentially a breeding ground for this endangered species. >>> more 

31dec2008: DFO group set to study Georges Bank science prior to moratorium review...  An "internal work group" has been established in the Halifax offices of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to make an assessment of the threats to fish populations in the Georges Bank area from oil and gas exploration.
      "Georges Bank is surrounded by one of the most economically important fishing grounds in Canada," says group leader Ted Potter, from DFO. "We will be looking at the science surrounding the issues without any prior speculation about the consequences," Potter told SCT. The marine scientist said that the group will look at data available since the last review ten years ago, including information now available from the production from wells near Sable Island, Newfoundland and the North Sea. 
     Potter expects that, by the fall, the work group will have information needed to create a RAP,  or Regional Advisory Process, which will create the report which is designed, according to Potter, "to inform the public, fishing industry, environmentalists and government about the likely effects of oil and gas on this complicated eco-system." The current moratorium ends in 2010.



Will Nova Scotia risk a trade war with Barack Obama and the U.S.A?

Much in the same way that Sarah Palin can see Russia from her kitchen window, folks in the small coastal town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia can look across the Gulf of Maine and see Boston or New Bedford or Gloucester or any of the other maritime cities, towns and villages in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, whose survival and well-being has depended for more than two centuries upon the abundant fishing in the surrounding waters.


But when they look west toward the “Boston States”, one small mob of Yarmouth businessmen and politicians – and their friends three hours away in government and petroleum industry offices throughout Halifax – sees a phalanx of looming oil and gas rigs, some of them taller than the high rises in downtown Boston. The platforms are crowded around a place called Georges Bank , home to the pristine and delicate marine habitat which supplies the fish stock for the $300 million dollar-plus East Coast U.S. fishing industry and hundreds of millions more for Canadian fishers. The Bank is currently protected from Canadian development.


Despite the decades-old, American and Canadian moratoria on drilling near Georges Bank and the long-term, cooperative management of the groundfish stocks in the area, plus the recent reintroduction to Congress of the Georges Bank Preservation Act and despite the furious lobbying of dozens of high-ranking Canadian officials to fight a protectionist stance by the U.S. in its $787 billion stimulus package and President Obama’s recent calming declaration that he does not want conflict with Canada, this small but earnest band seems hell-bent on their petroleum-fueled dream, even if it ignites a needless trade war with the world’s most imposing economic juggernaut - who also happens to be Canada's closest trading partner.


To see why such a precipitous and ill-advised course might be pursued, we need to look a little closer at the very provincial politics of southwestern Nova Scotia .  With only one urban centre in the entire province, almost all politics here are local – and rural at that. The survival of most politicians depends upon how much bacon they can bring back to the folks at home.


Add to this mix the reality that the historically flourishing maritime port of Yarmouth has become moribund and that its more recent tourism successes have disappeared with the continually shrinking stream of visitors from New England , delivered by ever-fewer ferry trips each year from ports in Maine.


Despite the utter lack of any petroleum development in the area, this cadre of business and political elites in the area, who also populate the industrial, airport and port commissions, recently sponsored a study which pointed to offshore petroleum exploration support as the brightest future for the port and town.  In a matter of days, the local MLA – who was then the Energy Minister - started to tell all who would listen, at industry meetings in the U.S. and Canada , that, as far as he was concerned, oil, gas, fishing and marine habitat could happily share the same sea bed. 


The Minister was encouraged, no doubt, by deeply entrenched bureaucrats within his department who have been pushing behind the scenes for development since before the ink was dry on the 1999 moratorium, despite the department's recent bold admission that they have not one shred of science which would alter that well-supported 1999 conclusion.


Within weeks of the initial salvos, we saw the sudden creation of a “task force”, contracted to an agency run by a business partner of the minister’s to do a supposedly thorough assessment of benefits and risks of oil and gas on Georges Bank and environs. Then a seemingly pro-drilling “steering committee” set out on a fact-finding junket to Norway to meet with oil and gas executives to see how it’s all done.  Before the fond memories of Norway had dissipated and before any meetings, research or public consultations of the Task Force, the committee chair - also a local politician and pal of the minister’s - issued a news release saying that they had concluded that drilling for and pumping oil and gas on Georges Bank could be done with little effect on the environment.


With no Task Force meetings to date and with the next Task Force report deadline looming just weeks away and a big chunk of this year’s budget almost half spent in Norway, it looks to be a safe wager that, just as the trip to Norway scrupulously avoided meetings with any fishermen or fisheries experts, the annoying and time-consuming gathering of solid evidence and public sentiment in Nova Scotia might be forsworn in lieu of a more convenient route littered with the detritus of forgone conclusions. Let's drill, will be the call.


Despite all of the reasons for heeding the science, logic, common sense and widespread opposition to drilling which has protected this valuable international resource since the Grand Banks schooners plied her watery troughs and gullies, the good burghers of Yarmouth seem determined to have the ban overturned, come what may. No one can blame even this close band of brothers from wanting prosperity for themselves and their pals. But should the rest of us pay the price of a possible fisheries trade war, ruined habitat and the eventual raging firestorm of protest, reaction, boycotts and worse that is certain to engulf us in its wake? Winnipeg-born Timothy Gillespie is a writer based in Shelburne , Nova Scotia .


^^return to top^^

The format of Nova Scotia Today is an archived blog, we do not publish a hard (paper) copy of our articles. 
Content is protected under The Canadian Constitutional Laws of Freedom Of Expression.  
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

all rights reserved 2006-2009    Nova Scotia TODAY  |      Timothy Gillespie    Box 917      Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0  902.874.0825   














eXTReMe Tracker