Da Legal Stuff...

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Monday, February 15, 2010

PR by Minister Not a Solution to Overfishing

The Government of Canada has proven, once again, just how ineffectual and useless the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)truly is.

On Sunday Federal Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, announced the closing of all Canadian ports to fishing vessels from Greenland and the Faroe Islands because of continued refusal on the part of both nations to respect fishing quotas in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ports were previously closed for both those nations in 2004 however the ban was lifted by the Harper government in 2008.

The shrimp quota set by NAFO in the area is 334 tonnes however both nations have decided to allow their fishing fleets to catch up to 10 times that amount and with limited monitoring, there is no way of truly knowing how much they might be catching even beyond that amount.

This step by Ottawa is seen in Newfoundland and Labrador as futile gesture since many of the vessels affected are likely to continue fishing the area and visiting the nearby French islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon to access supplies and fuel.

Those islands sit just off the Newfoundland coast but fall under the jurisdiction of France.

For many years fishermen in Atlantic Canada have demanded that the Canadian government and NAFO put a stop to overfishing and illegal practices on the offshore. Those demands continue to fallon deaf ears as Ottawa increasingly hands over more control of the offshore to NAFO member nations (many of which are a part of the EU).

Rather than protecting the marine environment which is so critical to the survival of coastal communities in Atlantic Canada, Ottawa continues to oversee the destruction of fish stocks in favour of improving trade relationships with the Countries involved.

NAFO has traditionally been the toothless tiger of fisheries management outside Canada’s 200 mile economic limit. While NAFO regulators often turn a blind eye to illegal and harmful fishing practices by its members or simply impose token penalties for infractions, the government of Canada, in the face of strong opposition, pushed through changes to NAFO regulations late last year that open the door for NAFO to be granted additional authority inside Canadian waters as well as outside them.

Recent reports by Fisheries officials claim the number of fisheries infractions by foreign vessels have diminished in recent years however locals insist that the lights of fishing boats can be seen offshore at night and appear, as one individual put it, as a “city of lights on the water”.

Many people dispute the position taken by federal officials believing instead that high levels of illegal fishing continue and that the low number of infractions reported are the result of Canada’s handing over many of its patrol duties to vessels from NAFO member countries, the same countries participating in the damaging fishing practices.

As fish stocks continue to be decimated, the closing of Canadian ports to these two small nations comes across to locals as little more than a public relations exercise.

Ottawa may be pretending to be tough for the home audience but in reality little is being done. Instead of sending a strong message to the EU, and other nations involved, through trade sanctions and vessel seizures, Ottawa continues to push hard on its plans for a free trade agreement with the EU in spite of their fishing practices and a recently adopted EU ban on Canadian seal products.

With full scale free trade talks underway on an agreement that is believed to be of benefit of Central and Eastern Canadian exporters, it’s highly unlikely that any real action will be taken to protect the imperilled fish stocks upon which many of the smaller Atlantic Provinces depend.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. Olympian Threatened by Anti-Fur Activists

Johnny Weir staying in Olympic Village because of anti-fur activists
By Chris Chase

American figure skater Johnny Weir will stay in the Olympic Village because he's concerned about "very serious threats" from anti-fur activists.

The medal hopeful had planned to stay in a hotel during the Games, but it would have been too difficult to arrange adequate security. Though there are no indications that any of the verbal and written threats from extremists were credible, Weir's decision to stay in the more secure village was an obvious choice.

He's right to take extra precautions during his time in Vancouver. Though the odds of one of these threats actually coming to pass are low, there's no reason for Weir to open himself up to the possibility. For peace of mind alone, staying in a secured Olympic Village is worth it.

At last month's U.S. Nationals, Weir earned the scorn of anti-fur protesters when he wore a white tuft of fox fur on his shoulder. He was defiant in the face of the criticism at first but later relented.

Weir has long been an enemy of animal-rights groups because of his costumes. It was a disappointment when he finally caved to their pressure. It's his job to look flamboyant. There's no need to listen to a small but vocal group who don't like it. Nothing would ever get accomplished if everyone in the world had to sign off on everything first.

Though those making threats to Weir are but an infinitesimal part of the animal-rights groups, they are a stain on the movement. Maybe PETA and Friends of Animals should spend more energy denouncing those who threaten rather than those who wear.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

***Shady Shawn's Discount Emporium***

Nalcor battle Underway Over Transmission Access in Quebec

Excerpts from the Montreal Gazette.

Régie studies spat between Quebec, N.L.: Question is whether Nalcor is getting fair access to transmission lines operated by Hydro-Québec

By LYNN MOORE, The GazetteFebruary 10, 2010

The countdown has begun for the province's energy board, which yesterday began hearing final arguments in a high-stakes energy dispute between Quebec and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

By Friday, it will be left to three Régie de l'énergie commissioners to decide a landmark case that pits Hydro-Québec against Nalcor Energy Corp., Newfoundland's public energy company, in a dispute that has multibillion-dollar consequences for both provinces and could affect their ability to access export markets.

Theirs will be a closely read ruling in the U.S. as well as Canada, energy industry experts said yesterday.

"We are talking about an area of business and enterprise (that) is highly political everywhere, in Newfoundland, in Quebec and in the U.S. and is also high-stakes in terms of economic issues, whether they be investment dollars or the price of electricity or development and jobs," said University of Alberta professor Joseph Doucet, an energy policy expert who has testified before the Régie in other cases.

Stripped of its many technical complications, the current case revolves around whether Hydro-Québec is providing - as required - fair and open access to available space on its transmission lines so Nalcor can transport power from its $6.5-million Lower Churchill project through Quebec to markets in Ontario, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Quebec's public utility - which incidentally has its own mega hydroelectric projects lined up - claims it has no available capacity. A system upgrade of about $3 billion would be required to handle Lower Churchill's 2,800 megawatts, it says.

Most chillingly, Nalcor alleges that Hydro-Québec is defying the concept of open access to transmission lines required by the Régie and by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

During three weeks of hearings, a U.S.-based energy expert testifying on behalf of Nalcor, told the Régie that Hydro-Québec's "actions go beyond the natural inertia of a monopolist and instead reflect a pro-active effort to inhibit (Nalcor's) access to the grid."

Another U.S.-based energy expert, called by Hydro-Québec, disputed the findings of Nalcor's expert and insisted that Quebec's utility had correctly portrayed its network capacity to Nalcor.

Hydro-Québec has a lot riding on its position and it is playing by the book, Université Laval economist Jean-Thomas Bernard said.

"Hydro-Québec does not want to get into trouble with FERC because they don't want to have their licence to operate in the U.S. market revoked. That would be a tremendous blow," Bernard said.

Although the ruling of the board will not be binding in other jurisdictions, it will be closely followed, especially by those who may already believe that Quebec is trying go get a stranglehold on transmission capacity in eastern Canada, said John Todd, president of Elenchus Research Associates, a Toronto-based company that provides strategic advice and technical support to the energy industry.

"As we evolve a more competitive energy system (in North America), you can not produce and sell power without transmission (capacity) to get from where you are producing it to market, so anything that affects the true degree of openness ... of transmission tariffs is going to be of interest," Todd said.

In an interview yesterday, Nalcor president Ed Martin again pointed to the economic benefits of the deal Nalcor desires with Quebec. Annual tariffs to Hydro-Québec could range between $75 million and $200 million, depending on how much power Newfoundland decided it will ship through Quebec and Nalcor is willing to pay for "reasonable upgrades" to the province's existing grid.

Final arguments before the Régie panel, presided over by Jean-Paul Théorêt, continue today and are expected to conclude tomorrow.

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Hearings+open+into+power+dispute/2543191/story.html#ixzz0f8d2DMKy