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TSC will not go quietly into the night

Temagami Stewardship Council News Release ******************** With the MNR poised to install their vision of Stewardship across Northern Ontario it might be appropriate to at least consider why a Stewardship in Temagami has stood up and said, “NO, w
Temagami Stewardship Council
News Release


With the MNR poised to install their vision of Stewardship across Northern Ontario it might be appropriate to at least consider why a Stewardship in Temagami has stood up and said, “NO, we won’t be controlled by the MNR.” After 13 years of a productive relationship on Lake Temagami the Temagami Stewardship Council (TSC) was informed in October of 2006 that we would no longer be involved in the management of the fishery of Lake Temagami. We were expelled from the Ontario Stewardship Program (OSP) and lost the $10,000.00 funding and the coordinator position that the membership provided because we would not do what we were told. Instead of quitting and allowing the MNR to take control of our Stewardship as happened to the Nipissing Stewardship Council we decided in Temagami to not go quietly into the night.

Why would a group representing a small community in Northern Ontario stand up to the juggernaut that is the MNR? Public opinion seems to be that although the TSC has done a great job the MNR always gets their way so why bother. The answer is that we feel that the Stewardship model that we developed in Temagami is a better model for the North than what the MNR is trying to impose.

The initial focus of the TSC was the fishery. We make no excuses for that. Consider the uproar in Northern Ontario last spring when the MNR tried to impose new fishing regulations. In most of Northern Ontario even the Temagami area the uproar was justified. There were questions as to whether adequate science had been conducted to support the regulation change and if it had been conducted the local people were not informed. However, on Lake Temagami the science had been conducted and the people had been provided the opportunity to be informed. The TSC passed a motion some time ago that regulations should be based on science and the input of local expertise and when there is a difference of opinion that the science should be the determining factor. The TSC in partnership with the MNR, had conducted the science. We financed the studies, helped administer the study crews, discussed the results of the studies and inputted on the management decisions and most importantly put studies in place to monitor the results of the management decisions. The Nipissing Stewardship Council did the same kind of work on Lake Nipissing and that has ended now that Nipissing has adopted the MNR Stewardship model.

I understand that the MNR is suggesting that the TSC is redundant now that they are creating Stewardship Advisory Councils. An Advisory Group that will provide public input on natural resources management issues. Everyone in the North knows how successful MNR Advisory Councils have been in the past. Just ask the 805 Advisory Group. More importantly consider this. If there were such a group formed for Zone 11 (the North Bay Area) then Lake Temagami would get maybe one representative appointed by the MNR. What vested interest group will that one person represent? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have a person appointed to the group from the Stewardship Council who represents and is responsible for bringing the views of all the vested interest groups in the Temagami area to the table? If that person is appointed by the MNR is he/she going to be allowed to disagree with bad decisions? Most importantly a person appointed from the Stewardship has been “involved” in the entire management process and should understand the science behind the management decisions. What criteria would the MNR use for their appointee?

Who is going to conduct the studies to provide the science on which to base the best possible resource management? The studies and research conducted on Lake Temagami over the past 13 years have put us 20 years ahead of research on most Ontario fisheries and would not have been conducted without the financial and administrative support of the TSC. Why would a Ministry charged with looking after Ontario’s natural resources move to end research and community involvement dedicated to enhancing natural resources?

What the TSC has done in Temagami is strive to preserve, protect, restore and improve the natural resources of Lake Temagami. We have worked in harmony as partners with the dedicated biologists, conservation officers, and MNR employees who want to do what is necessary to look after the natural resources but are prevented from doing that job by financial and political constraints. Maybe that is the reason for the MNR’s attempt to shut us down? We put too much pressure on the MNR administration to do the job they should be doing.

Like most small communities in the North, we need the support that the OSP can provide In Temagami. It is the desire of the Temagami Stewardship Council that the MNR reconsider imposing a model of Stewardship developed for Southern Ontario in the North and reconsider the tremendous possibilities community involvement in a truly democratic partnership can provide.