PORT HAWKESBURY: Nova Scotia’s Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was in the area last week to improve communication and cooperation between fisheries groups in the province.

On September 4, Keith Colwell hosted an information session at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre to follow-up on fishing industry feedback about communication challenges between organizations and their membership.

One idea was for the department to fund the creation of a generic Web site template, which groups can use more easily and cost-effectively.

Colwell said because these sites are beyond the financial and technical capabilities of the groups, the province decided to step in.

“It’s a template that we have, they can set it up for themselves very specific to their organization and the next organization that uses, if they choose to use it, because it is voluntary,” Colwell told The Reporter. “We’re going to offer support to them too for a while so they get used to using it, if they decide to use it.”

The minister said the templates provide for the dissemination of information strictly within closed groups that can only be seen by its members.

“Really it keeps the members informed and it’s members-only, it stops the rumour mill too,” Colwell said. “It allows the people to get accurate information in a timely manner.”

The template was designed and developed in collaboration with the Eastern Shore Fisherman’s Protective Association to meet the communication requirements and the expectations of members. This same group also piloted the new initiative.

“This is more than a Web site,” Colwell stated. “This is a Web site for fisheries organizations in the province. But behind it, in a secure location by password, it’s an area where members of their association can go one there, no one else but them, including the government, and they can have minutes of their meetings posted, they can have issues around quotas that might be available for fishermen, equipment that fishermen might want to sell in the community, or other things that are really important to the industry itself.

“A lot of information can be put on there by the organizations. It’ll make it a lot easier for the administration of their facilities and the operations they do on a day-to-day basis.”

Along with similar information sessions planned for Southwest Nova and other locations in the province, Colwell added staff will follow up with local groups in the coming months to make sure they have all the information they need, and to determine which want to adopt to the new site. Those groups which decide to go ahead will be provided with a Web designer to get their sites established.