May 22, 2006

Protection of shared ocean emerges as key issue for premiers, New England governors

Co-operating on managing our shared ocean was one of the key resolutions adopted at this year's meeting of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers. The importance of this issue builds on the establishment of a Northeast Regional Oceans Committee (and a subset Oceans Working Group) last year by the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG/ECP). This year's resolution calls for the Working Group to assign priority to regional issues to be addressed, develop a long-term strategy for examining regional governance issues, and collaborate with federal agencies to formulate a regional ocean plan and implementation strategy.

Prince Edward Island Premier Patrick Binns emphasized the importance, particularly to his province, of enhancing regional co-operation on oceans management. "The health of our oceans is an important environmental and economic issue. The adverse effects of invasive species on the fishery, the slow return of traditional species such as cod, and rising sea levels should be a concern to all of us. These challenges are having material impacts on our communities," he said.

Of particular concern to the Premiers and Governors are marine and oceans-related research and development, combating invasive species, disease identification and control, environmental concerns, data sharing and technological development.

Binns told the conference that his government is developing a provincial coastal and oceans network, whose purpose is to seek improved co-operation and links between relevant government departments, the fishery and aquaculture industries, and interested non-governmental organizations.

Energy was another focal point for the meeting, and a resolution adopted by the Premiers and Governors set a goal of increasing the amount of new renewable energy generation in the region by at least 10% by 2020. The NEG/ECP's Northeast International Committee on Energy (NICE) has been assigned the task of assessing the region's portfolio of renewable resources and potential. NICE has also been asked to create a Regional Energy Portfolio Workgroup whose task would be to promote fuel diversity in the region. Finally, the NEG/ECP has asked NICE to continue its Energy Dialogue, a high-level forum convened this past March, by hosting a symposium on renewable energy and energy efficiency options in New England and eastern Canada.

The 30th annual meeting took place May 11 to 13 in Newport, Rhode Island.

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