November 18, 2020
DFO cancels consultation with Mi’kmaw over fish passage in Avon River
Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO),– this week the Consultation Department 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. 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.
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.