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 beginnings in 2003, MICA and our 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 21 Mahone Bay islands, island and shoreline properties into public ownership for conservation and traditional public use. In addition, MICA financially supported the Nature Conservancy of Canada in the acquisition of three prime islands off Chester which are now available for public use.
The Mahone Islands Conservation Area has become a very significant recreational resource. This would have not been possible without the financial support of our partners, our members, our friends, our Gala Dinner and Auction donors and our Corporate Supporters since the beginnings of MICA in 2002.
MICA has the stewardship responsibility for these prime islands, island and shoreline properties. We must ensure that they are respected, conserved and are available for traditional public use.
2. Unauthorized Private Moorings
When we acquired these islands there were no private moorings around them with the exception of several placed off Long Island. These were installed by the Long Island Preservation Society, which subsequently donated Long, Dry, Centre and Snipe islands to MICA. There were also several in the big cove on Backmans Island.
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. Most are located in prime locations in close proximity to the most desirable beaches and landing spots.
MICA does not support these unauthorized private moorings for the following reasons:
- Private moorings can restrict access to the shore.
- Most private moorings are set in preferred, popular locations.
- Private moorings reduce space available for anchoring.
- Unattended or abandoned moorings are a hazard.
- Moorings ‘stake a private claim’ by the owner.
- Private moorings can and have led to confrontation on the water regarding their use.
- Our islands have been used and enjoyed over many years without the need for private moorings.
- Private moorings are contrary to everything MICA has worked for in acquiring these islands for all public use.
- If we do not address this now, the number of private moorings will likely increase to the detriment of island users.
3. MODL Registered Moorings
To address this issue, MICA developed an agreement with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables and Nova Scotia Department of Environment that we would develop an educational process to explain why MICA opposes 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’.
It was and is MICA’s policy and mandate to keep our islands in their natural state, including the waters around them, without moorings. MICA has come to the realization that this might not be practical considering the recent increase of activity on the water and the increased usage of our islands.
MICA had initially discussed this issue with MODL because all but two of the MICA islands are in MODL. Discussions with MOC are in process.
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.
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 will be a 2000 lb. concrete block with 5/8” chain and 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
In using these moorings we ask:
- That they are not monopolized.
- That they are for day use.
- That users have consideration for others.
- That users follow the MICA Island Use Guidelines.
- That users make a donation to MICA to help offset the cost of these moorings.
- That users join MICA.
- That users help MICA in our stewardship of the MICA islands:
We are very pleased to report that six (6) REGISTERED PUBLIC MOORINGS were deployed in the fall of 2022. They are located off Covey big cove, Backmans big cove, Backmans little cove, Bella big cove, Masons north end and Masons big cove. The bridles and buoys have been removed for the winter and replaced with a temporary winter buoy.
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.
The plan is to install a significant number of additional REGISTERED PUBLIC MOORINGS around MICA islands for the next boating season.
It is our goal that over time, the only moorings that would be present around MICA islands in the Municipality of Lunenburg and Chester would be REGISTERED PUBLIC MOORINGS provided by MODL, MOC and MICA.
4. Existing Private Moorings
If you are an owner of an existing private mooring off a MICA island, we ask you to remove it or sign it over to MICA/MODL so that it can be removed or, if suitable, converted to a REGISTERED PUBLIC MOORING or possibly replaced by a REGISTERED PUBLIC MOORING.
If you know of such owners, please ask them to contact us at email@example.com.
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 unauthorized 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 Public Moorings would be around MICA islands and island properties. Please help us achieve this goal. Thank you.
5. 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. Membership applications can be made on our website or at various public events attended by MICA.
There has never been a better time to join and to be part of the legacy we are creating.
Mahone Islands Conservation Association Board of Directors.