McNabs Island Park and MacCormack’s Beach will be closed either Thursday, May 24, or Friday, May 25, so scientists can begin a brown spruce longhorn beetle research project. Spruce logs from McNabs Island, where the brown spruce longhorn beetle is known to be present, will be flown by helicopter to MacCormack’s Beach in Eastern Passage, Halifax Co. As a safety precaution, the park and beach areas will be closed while the logs are being transported. The work is not expected to take more than one day. Because the work depends on weather and availability of helicopter and crew, the exact date of the work cannot yet be determined. Researchers will remove the bark from the McNabs Island spruce logs using standard sawmill commercial debarking machines and test to determine whether the brown spruce longhorn beetles survive the process. They will then use the beetles’ survival rate to help assess the risk of moving bark from a sawmill inside the containment zone to a facility outside of the regulated area. Bark from spruce logs is commonly sold to companies for garden mulch or for burning as fuel in energy plants. On May 14, new federal regulations came into effect that include an expanded containment zone for products associated with brown spruce longhorn beetle. Landowners, mill operators and others inside the zone are able to deal with spruce logs, spruce bark and oversized spruce wood chips. Anyone moving those products outside of the containment zone, however, must follow certification requirements put in place by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. As part of the new ministerial order and regulations, more scientific research was recommended to better understand this beetle. Natural Resources Canada is the lead federal department conducting that research. The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are providing assistance in this work. The findings from Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service’s research at McNabs Island will be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle Task Force.
According to media reports, the Australian Parliament passed an amendment on Thursday that would allow the re-opening of offshore detention centres for migrants and asylum-seekers arriving in Australia by sea. The amendment was passed following recommendations from a panel of asylum experts.The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, welcomes efforts by the Australian Government to institute more comprehensive cooperation on migration, a spokesperson, Xabier Celaya, noted, but is concerned that offshore detention centres would give way to indefinite detention putting human rights at risk.“The High Commissioner reiterates her call for a rethink of Australia’s asylum and migration policy, urging political leaders to take a principled and courageous stand on migration and to break an ingrained political habit of demonising migrants and asylum-seekers,” Mr. Celaya, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), added in a media briefing in Geneva.“Because of the drastic impact of immigration detention, including on the physical and mental health of those detained, the United Nations human rights mechanisms have emphasized that it should always be applied as a measure of last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and only when no less restrictive measure is available,” Mr. Celaya said, noting that there is no empirical evidence indicating that detention centres deter irregular immigration or discourage people from seeking asylum.“The desperation that causes people to embark on these perilous journeys in the first place will almost certainly remain, especially in the absence of effective and rights-based regional cooperation on migration and asylum,” he said.OHCHR has had long-standing concerns about Australia’s use of a mandatory detention regime for migrants and asylum-seekers. According to international human rights law, time limits must be placed on immigration detention and any detention should only take place as a result of an individual determination. In May last year, while on a visit to the country, Ms. Pillay said the mandatory detention policy has for many years cast a shadow over Australia’s human rights record. “Thousands of men, women and – most disturbingly of all – children have been held in Australian detention centres for prolonged periods, even though they have committed no crime,” she stated during her visit.In a press briefing in Geneva, a spokesperson of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, said the proposed amendments raise complex legal, protection, policy and operational issues. “UNHCR’s preference remains an arrangement which would allow asylum-seekers arriving by boat into Australian territory to be processed in Australia. This would be consistent with general practice,” Mr. Edwards said.“We do not want to see a return to lengthy delays in remote island centres for asylum seekers and refugees before durable solutions are found,” he added.