Who are we?
We are a group of citizens who are committed to the future of the Atlantic region’s marine economy, environment and traditions, particularly in southwest New Brunswick.
What do we want?
We want to involve public and private interests in promoting a healthy southwest New Brunswick marine environment that supports our long-term socio-economic prosperity and marine traditions.
We want the federal government to maintain ocean science programs that are vital to the future of Canada and particularly to our region.
SOS was formed in mid-2012 in response to announced cuts to Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) programs and facilities, nationwide. Ottawa said that these steps would maintain Canada’s existing science capabilities at reduced cost but offered few details. We believed otherwise and sought further consideration.
Our efforts took a local approach to a national issue. We focused on Canada’s oldest and most-recognized federal fisheries research facility – the St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS) in St. Andrews, New Brunswick – and the multi-sector “marine hub” that it serves. Over 16 regional, national and international fisheries or marine related organizations currently headquarter or work in southwest New Brunswick.
In 2012-2013, we contacted federal and provincial politicians and officials; prepared business case scenarios; explored cost-sharing alternatives and rallied broad public support to reverse two immediate cuts affecting the St. Andrews Biological Station (SABS):
· Eliminating DFO fisheries contaminants and toxics investigations. The contaminants and toxics research and response team at SABS has been critical to the aquaculture and shipping industries that support our region’s economy. In March 2013, the federal government cancelled this program, leaving its new, specialized laboratories empty. Ottawa has yet to advise how it will continue longterm studies or respond to environmental emergencies as its federal scientists once did.
· Closing seven of Canada’s nine fisheries libraries. Canada’s newest fisheries library – a state-of-the-art $4 million facility at the St. Andrews Biological Station – was opened in 2012. It housed over 12,000 documents – many of these unique and specialized – used by federal scientists, international researchers and others in the region’s marine science hub. Ottawa culled the contents of all of its fisheries libraries and, by September 2013, consolidated the remaining documents at single sites on the east and west coast. (There is a tentative exception: the contents of a federal fisheries library in Quebec are boxed but not yet transferred, awaiting an official languages appeal). At SABS, the library’s positions were eliminated and the new, climate-controlled facility left empty. Ottawa promised to significantly increase electronic library services to offset the loss of its regional fisheries libraries. Budgets and timetables for this upgrade have yet to be announced.
We believe that the future of our region’s marine resources and economy must to be determined by federal decisions that are based on sound science and regional consultation. See What We Do for our current efforts to promote ocean science and our region’s Marine Hub. See Get Involved for what you can do to help in southwest New Brunswick or elsewhere in Canada.