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Lobster fishery likely to continue inside federal Eastern Shore Islands protected area

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Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans appears ready to allow lobster fishing inside the proposed Eastern Shore Islands marine protected area.

A draft ecological risk assessment prepared by the department says the local lobster fishery poses little risk of harming juvenile Atlantic cod, eel grass and kelp beds.

“Based on the results summarized above, the Department does not propose additional restrictions for the lobster fishery within a future MPA,” Wendy Williams, a DFO director in the Maritimes, said in a recent letter to stakeholders.

Significant eel grass and kelp beds and a cod nursery are unique ecological features within the 2,000 square-kilometre area — a pristine Nova Scotia archipelago of hundreds of islands that stretches from Clam Harbour, near Jeddore Harbour, to Barren Island, near Liscomb Point.

Why everyone is watching Eastern Shore Islands

Canada has committed to protect 10 per cent of coastal and ocean waters by 2020.

Eastern Shore Islands is the first large marine candidate in Canada with an inshore fishery. The boundary extends just 25 kilometres from the coast.

The ecological risk assessment is part of consultations involving fishermen, community groups, academics and First Nations.

Lobster fishermen in particular have feared the designation as a marine protected area could result in no-take zones where harvesting is banned.

Susanna Fuller, an Oceans North environmentalist, said the lobster assessment was fast-tracked and should assuage fishermen’s concerns.

“It really comes down to how they respond to getting essentially what they ask for,” Fuller said.

Recognizing the obvious

But fisherman Peter Connors wonders what took the government so long to recognize that the lobster fishery poses little threat.

“We should have started from that premise,” said Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association.

Connors does not trust the federal government and even considers the risk assessment itself an insult to fishermen.

“And the fact they are only coming out now with a statement that the fishery won’t be affected when they see the opposition is so great that this can’t go ahead,” Connors said.

Advisory committee meets later this month

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans declined to speak about the draft assessment saying it will wait until a Jan. 22 meeting. At that time the report will be presented to an advisory committee.

The advisory committee was created last year to make recommendations on zones, boundaries and allowable activities for future marine protected areas.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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