Chiefs Frustrated with Decisions Made on the Avon River
November 18, 2020
While discussions on the Avon River were making positive strides at the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia Canada Consultation table, this week the Consultation Department at the Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO), received notice – without explanation – from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that a Ministerial Order (MO) that DFO developed to address concerns with the Avon River was no longer being issued. This MO was to be implemented weeks ago and instead is now being considered – not guaranteed – for next Spring. Despite multiple requests for additional information and the opportunity to discuss this decision further, requests to DFO are largely being ignored.
The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have been clear that free-flowing fish passage is required at the mouth of the Avon River and there is clear evidence that the current causeway structure is not allowing fish to complete their life cycle. In efforts to address this, last month DFO brought a draft MO to the Consultation table for discussion and all parties had agreed that the MO would make positive changes to the alarming situation on the Avon River. The draft MO directly spoke to the concerns on the protection of fish and the improvements necessary to fish passage for the critically endangered Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon.
“Our primary concern has always been that the current operations of the existing gated structure are impeding fish passage,” said Chief Gerald Toney, Fisheries Lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. “We need these concerns to be rectified immediately and we were hopeful that would be a result of the Ministerial Order.”
Mi’kmaq concerns of fish mortality, lack of free-flowing fish passage, and the need for restoration of critical salt marsh habitat continued to be voiced by the Assembly, Mi’kmaw environmental organizations, concerned community members, and the Water Protectors who have remained onsite.
“While the MO was a short-term solution, it was a step in the right direction,” continued Chief Toney. “We are now moving out of the Atlantic Salmon migration season, and by having not implemented the objectives outlined in the MO we are concerned that this has only caused more damage and set things back even further.”
The Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Process was established to meaningfully engage and adequately address the concerns and impacts on Mi’kmaw rights. Clearly that is not happening with the decisions being made on the Avon River. The Assembly is calling on Minister Jordan and DFO to come to the table with answers as it is imperative to yielding healthy results to fish passage in the Avon River.
For additional information, please contact: Crystal Dorey, Communications Manager Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office [email protected] 902-843-3880