Submission by Dr. Piotr Trela, Climate Change and Energy Coordinator for Sierra Club Canada, Atlantic Chapter, in response to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador public discussion document: "Coastal and Ocean Management Strategy and Policy Framework for Newfoundland and Labrador".
Main points: the Discussion Document is an important step, but it has a serious structural weakness – it considers the health of the coastal zone and ocean ecosystem only as an afterthought, while it should have been the very core of the paper: without healthy ecosystem all the other issues: jobs, economy, industry, culture, will collapse, or at best, be reduced to a stump of the former self (see the devastation wrought upon this province by the cod collapse). Coastal and Ocean management policies should recognize in much more comprehensive way the effects of climate change on the oceans, complexity of ocean food webs and should use the "precautionary principle” as a guiding strategy. We have to admit that some fishing methods are inherently more destructive than others, and more costly, both economically and socially. We should learn from our mistakes and mistakes of others - learn the lessons from oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and implement them in our regulatory system for our offshore oil. We need to put the health of the ecosystem at the centre of all coastal and ocean policies; have a dedicated body within the government to coordinate the ocean management; involve the public (e.g. through an advisory council). The province needs to lobby the federal governemnt and commit also its own resources to fund scientific research and the work of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO), which provide research, education and stimulate public engagement. If new project and core funding for ENGOs' is not provided, ENGOs' expertise and delivery capacity in this area will be lost. The failure to provide such (very modest) funding would not only narrow the public discourse, but also would cost taxpayer much more in the long run - the replacement of ENGO's educational and research capacity by the government, if doable at all, would be much more expensive.