100 Wild Islands – A Grassroots Story of Conservation

I feel like a protector,
sort of like family, I guess. I don’t know, it’s like you have roots,
this is part of our roots. Lobster fishing is the major
employer in this area, there’s nothing else for us here,
this is our livelihood. We’re not going away. This is exceptional,
this is amazing, wilderness, so close to
urban environment. It’s important to have those types
of spaces close to where people live. You can escape, and find a place
of shelter, recluse, whatever you want to call it. 282 islands,
7,000 acres of land, every coastal ecosystem
found in Nova Scotia is found in those islands,
so it’s everything. So the 100 Wild Islands project
all started when we were trying to
figure out a strategy to protect the coast of Nova Scotia. 85% of the coast is in
private ownership. So even if government protects
all the land they own on the coast, we wouldn’t have our
coastline protected. And we’re losing access
to the coast, people are finding beaches
and places that, for generations, we’ve been able
to go… we can’t, because it’s privately owned and
people are putting up gates, and we’re losing that access to this
incredible, traditional resource that we’ve had. My name is Brian Murphy. If you’re
aboard the boat, I’d be captain Brian Murphy. I do boat tours, we operate
the campground, Murphy’s Camping on the Ocean. When they started
populating the shore, a lot people moved on these
nearby islands, and they inhabited them for a while. I guess they were all fishermen,
up to… I guess my generation. All through my life, I used to
come out with my father, and I learned to swim here.
My kids learned to swim here. We’d just come out here as a family
a lot, and brought our friends out, and then that developed into
bringing tours out, and I love sharing it. The local people always had access
to these islands, they always had cabins. People
started to realize there’s… maybe a need to save some
of these islands. A few years ago, there’s a new idea
in town, they thought salmon farms would be
good to put in here and the more you heard about,
the more we realized salmon farms were not the best for nature. And at the same time, these islands, it looked like they’d be
good for tourism, so rather than just say no, no,
no to salmon farms, we said yes, yes, yes to these
100 Wild Islands. It just became a much more
natural fit for the local area. – I’m Jeannie Hubley
– And I’m Michael I’ve been lobster fishing now
for about 38 years. I was 12 years old when I got
my lobster license. It’s not something for the
faint-hearted I don’t think. We’re in Spry Bay, 70 miles east
of Halifax, on the Eastern Shore. Lobster fishing is the major
employer in this area, there’s nothing else for us here.
For anything to come in this area, and to harm it, such as the salmon
farms that they’ve wanted to put in, would ruin the bottom. So, for them to come in, a
multi-millionaire business, to come in and put
something in that, they’re wiping out our
industry on the shore for a handful of jobs. You must’ve had your traps
set in the wrong place. They’re not taking into
consideration the damage it’s going to
do on this shore, and it will wipe us out. I mean, we have nothing else,
no other big employer. But we did, they did studies, the group did studies,
there’s not the depth of water, there wasn’t the current, it would
have ruined us completely. We were lucky in the fact that
when they come here, to implant these
open-pen salmon farms, there was enough damage done
on the other shores, in New-Brunswick, along Nova Scotia, the damage was already done,
we plainly told them that, if those salmon farms come here,
they wouldn’t be here long. Because we would do
whatever it took, that it wouldn’t work. The salmon farms, that project
for now has been put on hold, I don’t think it’s actually
stopped completely, – I think they’re just waiting for
– Things to cool down Well, for people to forget and say, “they’re not coming here,” “we don’t have to worry
about it anymore.” I’m very proud of the people in
this area, honestly. You know, because they…
they stepped up. So I’m hoping, the 1000 islands,
with, you know, all the
attention it’s getting, that it will be a plus for us,
who are fighting the salmon farms, that’s, I guess, all I can
hope for, really. There is fear of, you know, we’ve
lived here forever, we know what works for us and
what we value about this community and so the Nature Trust,
wherever we work, we encounter that sense of… you know, but really what’s going to
happen if this area is protected, are we going to lose our
traditional livelihood? Are we going to lose our
traditional access to these places that have been part of
our lifestyle? We needed to start slowly, so long before we went
public with this idea, we started meeting leaders
in the community, or the people who are really well-
connected to the fishing community and to the ecotourism people, and
the business community, and find out what are
their concerns, and we had public meetings
where we asked people, “what do you want to see
happen to the islands?” What we were hearing was
actually compatible, because we weren’t talking
about expropriation, and we weren’t talking about
stopping people from continuing to go out to the islands
and enjoy them as they always had, and it wouldn’t affect fishing, and
in fact, if anything, it’s going to draw attention to how
significant this is in terms of the marine and
terrestrial ecosystems out here, and they need to be protected so there’s less chance some big
industrial thing might happen on this shore that
could disturb that. There’s this potential and we see
this really good opportunity and we’d like to work with the
island owners, if they’re interested, and many of
them became our biggest champions of the project because, really, they
realize this is totally aligned with what we want. I think the research we’d done
really helped elevate the significance of these islands.
These aren’t just some islands, they are the only islands like it,
anywhere in North America. You can’t protect 282 islands,
7,000 acres of land with that much ecological diversity. Every coastal ecosystem
found in Nova Scotia is found in those islands.
So it’s everything, salt marshes and
freshwater wetlands, freshwater lakes out on the islands, this is a world-class
learning laboratory for us. Once people learned about it, they just had no idea this existed,
something so significant, and beautiful and intact.

2 thoughts on “100 Wild Islands – A Grassroots Story of Conservation

  1. if the federal government takes control of our waters through their mpa/park than we will lose access and control of our own waters and lands and a government 1500 kilometers away do not care what the local people have invested or jobs; this is our habitat Nova Scotia do not give it away like you did Sable Island

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