The challenges facing MICA
Visitors have enjoyed these islands for generations
MICA has faced a list of evolving challenges over the years. From the privatization and development of the islands to our current challenge of private moorings.
Traditional public use of our islands has been by anchoring and by direct beach landing for smaller boats. The last number of years have seen a significant number of unauthorized private moorings set around MICA islands.
The MICA Public Mooring Plan 2023
Since our beginning in 2003, MICA and our acquisition partners – the Province of Nova Scotia, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and the Municipality of Chester have invested very significant financial resources to bring 19 Mahone Bay islands and island properties into public ownership for conservation and traditional public use plus the Molands Point lots and the MICA Oakland Conservation Area. In addition, MICA financially supported the Nature Conservancy of Canada for the acquisition of three prime islands off Chester (Quaker, Lynch and Snake) which are now available for public use.
The Mahone Islands Conservation Area has become a very significant recreational resource. This would not have been possible without the financial support of our members, donors, Gala Dinner and Auction supporters and our Corporate Supporters since the beginning of MICA in 2003.
MICA has the stewardship responsibility for these prime islands, island and shoreline properties. We must ensure that they are respected, conserved and available for traditional public use.
2. Private Moorings
When we acquired these islands there were no private moorings around them with the exception of a very few off Long Island and in the big cove on Backmans Island. The Long Island moorings were installed by the Long Island Preservation Society which subsequently donated Long, Dry, Centre and Snipe islands to MICA.
Traditional public use of our islands has been by anchoring and by direct beach landing for smaller boats. The last number of years have seen a significant number of private moorings set around MICA islands. Most are located in prime locations in close proximity to the most desirable beaches and landing spots.
MICA does not support these private moorings for the following reasons:
- They ‘stake a private claim’ by the owner.
- They can restrict access to the shore.
- Most are set in preferred popular locations.
- They reduce space available for anchoring.
- Unattended or abandoned moorings are a hazard.
- They are contrary to what MICA and our partners have worked for in acquiring these islands for public use.
3. MICA Communications regarding Private Moorings
To address this issue, MICA, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables and Nova Scotia Department of Environment agreed that MICA would develop an educational process to explain why we oppose private moorings around MICA islands and to ask owners to remove them. We have been communicating this position in our newsletters, at our events and on our web site since 2017. Some owners have removed their moorings and to them we say a sincere ‘thank you’.
To help keep our islands in their natural state MICA’s original desire was that access would be by anchoring as opposed to setting moorings or by direct beach landing for smaller boats. MICA has come to the realization that this is not practical considering the recent increased usage of our islands. A more practical solution would be to provide moorings off MICA islands available for public use.
4. MODL Registered Moorings
MICA had initially discussed this issue with MODL because all but two of the MICA islands are in MODL.
In the spring of 2021 MICA, MODL and NSDNRR agreed that a practical solution would be to have Provincially Registered Moorings off MICA islands available for public use. In July 2021, MODL received a permit to register a quantity of moorings around the MICA islands in the Municipality of Lunenburg.
MODL will own these moorings, they will be installed and serviced by a qualified marine contractor and MICA has agreed to share the cost.
The base is a 2000 lb. concrete block with 5/8” chain attached to a float on the surface with a single pennant. The float is a yellow ball marked PUBLIC. The following tag is attached to the pennant:
USAGE IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK
When using these moorings, we ask all users to:
- Not monopolize nor reserve them.
- Vacate by 9 am with one day maximum stay.
- Have consideration for others.
- Follow the MICA Island Use Guidelines.
- Make a donation to MICA to help offset the cost of these moorings.
- Become a member of MICA.
- Help MICA in our stewardship of the MICA islands by ‘Leaving Only Your Footprints’.
The first six (6) registered moorings were deployed in the fall of 2022 and a further twenty (20) were set in May 2023. They are located as follows:
- Andrews I: east side (1)
- Backmans I: big (1) and little cove (1)
- Bella I: big (2) and little cove (1)
- Covey I: big cove (2), little cove west side (1)
- Ernst I: northwest side (1)
- Long I: south side (3)
- Masons I: big cove (6) and north point (2)
- Sacrifice I: big cove (2)
- Squid I: big cove (2)
- Zwicker I: northwest side (1)
While the use of these moorings is provided free of charge it is hoped that users will make donations to MICA to help offset costs.
5. MOC Registered Moorings
In addition we are very pleased to advise that we have embarked on a similar program with the Municipality of Chester (MOC) with the plan to install registered moorings for public use for the MICA islands in that municipality as follows:
- Birch I: north side (2)
- Clay I: west side (2) (not a MICA island but owned by MOC)
- Squid I: big cove (2) (already installed)
6. Existing Private Moorings around MICA islands
It is our collective goal that over time, the only moorings that will be present around MICA islands in the Municipality of Lunenburg and Chester will be registered moorings for public use provided by MODL, MOC and MICA.
If you are an owner of an existing private mooring off a MICA island, we ask you to please remove it or sign it over so that it can be removed or if suitable, converted to a registered mooring for public use or possibly replaced by a registered mooring for public use.
It is important that MICA islands purchased with public funds and private donations are equally accessible by the general boating public.
We hope that our initiative will allow the boating public to better enjoy the beauty and recreational values of our Mahone Bay islands without prime mooring locations being taken by private moorings.
MICA offers sincere thanks to the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, the Municipality of Chester and the NS Department of Natural Resources and Renewables for their great partnership and foresight in making the MICA islands more accessible to the public.
Our goal is that only MODL or MOC registered moorings for public use would be around MICA islands and island properties. Please help us achieve this goal. Thank you.
If you wish to donate to support our Public Mooring program and our future acquisitions, please do so by:
- cheque to MICA, PO Box 427, Mahone Bay, NS B0J 2E0, or b. online at: www.mahoneislands.ns.ca.
8. MICA Membership
The MICA membership goal is that anyone who enjoys our islands in any way is a member.
MICA membership is crucial to let our partners know that there is strong public support for our organization and the MICA Mission. If you value what MICA has accomplished and is doing, please keep your membership current and encourage others to do so as well. Memberships can be made on our website.
There has never been a better time to join and to be part of the legacy we are creating together.
MAHONE ISLANDS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
Board of Directors