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Parks Canada is considering a conservation area run by the Mi’kmaq in N.-é.

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Parks Canada is still studying the marine and terrestrial conservation plan called Pemsik, but the consultation process could start as early as this summer .

Radio-Canada

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Parks Canada says a vast marine conservation area led by Indigenous people off the South Shore of New Scotland “aligns” with its mandate to protect natural heritage sites.

The plan is part of a larger conservation initiative known as Pemsik, which would also include land stretching from Port Joli, in Queens County to the Tobeatic Wilderness.

From the Mikmaq point of view, it was a very important space, says Melissa Labrador, herself from the indigenous people, who is pushing to have the project adopted.

The vision for the Pemsik Conservation Area, integrates land and water, with an outline from above that resembles a grandmother's petroglyph found in Kejimkujik National Park. The oceanic part has the shape of a skirt that extends towards the sea for tens of kilometers.

She's sort of the mind behind the study area, says Melissa Labrador, adding that the proposed boundaries are subject to change.

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A map of the proposed Pemsik Conservation Area resembles a grandmother's petroglyph found in Kejimkujik National Park. The oceanic part has the shape of a skirt that extends towards the sea for tens of kilometers.

The plan includes several already protected areas, including the seaside portion of Kejimkujik National Park and a 156-hectare parcel in Port Joli preserved by the Nova Scotia Wildlife Trust.

By examining the different conservation tools, the National Marine Conservation Area offered by Parks Canada seems to be the best solution, as it ensures that sustainable fishing can still take place.

A quote from Mi`kmaw artist Melissa Labrador

The Pemsik marine component has been proposed by Bear River First Nation as a possible Parks Canada National Marine Conservation Area in 2022.

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The federal agency says that Pemsik is still in the exploratory phase, but the project joins its mission.

Parks Canada's integrated mandate aims to protect and present cultural and natural heritage sites of importance to people living in Canada. It aligns with the Indigenous vision of the Pemsik conservation mosaic, says spokesperson Robyn Hufnagel.

Open in full screen mode< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Melissa Labrador on Carters Beach near Port Mouton, Nova Scotia. She is pushing for the Pemsik national marine conservation area project.

A representative from Parks Canada and Melissa Labrador met with fishermen and fishing associations fishermen earlier this month to discuss the proposal.

Dan Fleck, of the Brazil Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association, was one of the inshore fishing representatives who met with Melissa Labrador and Parks Canada.

We like what we heard, he said.

This protects traditional lobster fishing from wind power deep sea, oil and gas developments and aquaculture. We look forward to seeing this in writing to confirm that what we are hearing matches the facts, he said.

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Dan Fleck, executive director of the Brazil Rock Lobster Fishermen's Association in Nova Scotia.

Melissa Labrador confirms that Pemsik would have no impact on the lobster fishery and a small herring fishery within the proposed national marine conservation area since both are sustainable.

We have great opportunities to work together so we can leave something for future generations, she said.

Conservation does not mean things stop. Conservation means we stop wasting our natural resources.

Some scallop dredging that takes place within Pemsik's boundaries would be banned in a conservation area because they disturb the seabed.

Parks Canada says if Pemsik proceeds with a feasibility study, broad consultations will take place with federal and provincial departments, Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, local communities, key stakeholders (including industry) and the public.

Melissa Labrador expects this study to begin this summer.

With information from< em>Paul WithersofCBC

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