Race Rocks Marine Protected Area DFO Expenses 2002-2010

“If we are to learn from past mistakes in the Process of Creating Marine Protected Areas, then it must be documented transparently so that stakeholders might have an opportunity to inform themselves.”

The complete version of this report can be found complete with graphs at
http://racerocks.ca/racerock/admin/atipreport/atip.htm

Background and Rationale for this report:
When we started the MPA designation Process for Race Rocks in 1999, I believe we all went into it assuming that the process of community involvement and stewardship would be one that could be a model of how ordinary people could help to achieve ecological conservation. Further to this, they could play a valuable role in assisting governments in creating one regime, devoid of jurisdictional barriers for the management of humans to ensure ecological sustainability of this unique resource. It was also hoped, that there would be unprecedented transparency in the process. At the time there was no reason that it could not become a template for the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas.

The Initial MPA Advisory Process involving the Race Rocks Advisory Board ended in 2002 when the consensus of the Board was not accepted by DFO office in Ottawa, and the resulting modified document gazetted was repugnant to RRAB members as well as First Nations. The Master’s Thesis of Sean Leroy provides a good overview of why this process had failed.

Since that time Lester B. Pearson College has continued with the support of the Ecological Reserve at Race Rocks. They had assumed this responsibility in Stewardship of facilities and the Ecological Reserve since the de-staffing of the light station by the Coastguard in 1997. Since that time the College has provided an on site guardian and generated the funds to cover all expenses, striving for energy self sufficiency and a sharing of the resource with creative use of technology on the internet in keeping with the mandate set out in the management plan for the Ecological Reserve. During that time, BC Parks has also cooperated by providing some funding for on-sight infrastructure repair and maintenance.

“If we are to learn from past mistakes in the Process of Creating Marine Protected Areas, then it must be documented transparently so that stakeholders might have an opportunity to inform themselves.”

In the fall of 2009, DFO reconvened the Race Rocks (Public) Advisory Board. It became clear to many in the first meeting that the community memory was absent, leading to a projected process highly reminiscent of the re-invention of the wheel, aimed to push through the process and seek completion of the MPA by the end of March, 2010. It was to me as if the last 11 years had not existed.

Prior to the November meeting of the Race Rocks Advisory Board (RRAB), I initiated an Access to Information and Privacy request ( ATIP) to DFO which was originally intended to quantify the costs involved in the creation and the follow up costs of administration and operation of the existing Marine Protected areas on all coasts of Canada. One of many points of that ATIP request included the costs of the MPA Creation Process since 1999 for Race Rocks. After many email and telephone communications back and forth with the ATIP office in Ottawa, I agreed to reduce the extent of the request due to costs they were projecting for my complete list: ( 52 hours at $10.00 per hour which was beyond my budget!) Since I was still primarily concerned with being able to compare costs to see whether there was a common approach to MPA designation and operations after designation, I agreed to accept the records for Bowie and Race Rocks. It was made clear to me at the time that I would only get the figures from invoices for expenses which had been tagged with a code designating the project of that reserve.

This means that staff time and DFO internal resource costs were not available. In addition there is no accounting of the costs incurred by Lester Pearson College, outside researchers and volunteers with no support from DFO for research and the protection of the reserve during the interim while apparently ongoing negotiations by DFO had continued.

Knowing that ATIP requests usually take a long time, I assumed we would be having another meeting before I received the ATIP file. In the November RRAB meeting, I asked to include in the agenda of the next meeting a discussion of the costs of the MPA Process for Race Rocks . I was not given assurance at that time that it would be discussed and a further attempt by telephone to get it on the agenda also failed with an indication that it was not in the interests of the Advisory Board. By the time of the March meeting I had had time to do an analysis of the data and asked if I could present this report to the Board. Time was not made available to do that in the meeting so a group of a dozen Board members were able to stay after the meeting for the presentation and follow-up discussion.

The ATIP file of data had been sent to me on February 10, 2010. That document included all financial reports contained in DFO Pacific’s electronic financial reporting system (MRS) under the project code numbers for the Race Rocks MPA designation process (54257 and 93818) and the Bowie Seamount designation process (54262 and 93826), from 1998 to the present (January 15, 2010).  Total 6mb with 142 pages in a pdf file.) The following are summary graphs generated by extracting information from the ATIP file.

No information is available so far for the year Mar.2007-Mar.2008

The complete version of this report can be found complete with graphs at
http://racerocks.ca/racerock/admin/atipreport/atip.htm

Garry Fletcher
March 25, 2010