Three views on aquaculture

TREPA News is a open forum dedicated to informing our interest group and keeping a record of fact and opinion on environmental topics.  Aquaculture is in the news and should be part of our coastal management strategy. Here are several recent views on the topic.

For: Sterling Belliveau, Minister of Environment and Fisheries and Aquaculture sees it as a jobs issue.

Aquaculture means jobs for rural NSS.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion and concern raised about aquaculture in Nova Scotia. The province has regulations and environmental monitoring for this industry. It is difficult to name another industry in Nova Scotia as closely monitored and scrutinized as aquaculture.

Regulations and monitoring ensure aquaculture is practised in an environmentally sustainable manner. Government veterinarians and scientific staff ensure that aquaculture sites are monitored and inspected regularly for fish health and environmental compliance.

The environmental assessment considers everything, including recreational and traditional uses of harbours and waterways, potential environmental impacts and site selection to minimize any possible displacement of traditional fisheries.

Licences, terms and conditions regarding the St. Mary’s Bay application are posted on our website. We are sharing the information we collect regarding aquaculture sites. Laboratory analyses are available to the public on request.

Nova Scotians have been, and will continue to be, consulted on aquaculture. People have the opportunity to provide input during community meetings, as well as the environmental assessment for individual operations. We also conducted a public opinion survey with almost 700 Nova Scotians. This survey tells us what people know about this industry, their environmental concerns, and their support for the jobs and economic benefits aquaculture creates.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing area of food production in the world. The aquaculture industry provides a great opportunity to create good jobs and grow the economy in coastal communities where they are needed. They operate year-round and provide an easy transition for traditional fishery workers. Aquaculture also creates local spinoff jobs in fields such as trucking, packaging, metal fabrication, and research and technology.

Nova Scotia is positioned to benefit from this growing industry. The government is working on a strategy to ensure that aquaculture continues to expand and grow in a well-managed way that will protect the marine environment and bring benefits to coastal communities.

Aquaculture contributes about $58 million to the Nova Scotia economy and provides jobs for 750 people. It has potential to become more than that. As aquaculture helps meet world demand for healthy food products, we can create jobs and economic benefits in coastal communities around Nova Scotia.

Against: Shelburne residents concerned. Violation of process and other issues.

By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth Bureau, Thursday, June 16

Shelburne summer residents Herschel and Marian Specter of Sandy Point have filed an appeal of the recent provincial government approval of what they allege are three new salmon aquaculture sites in Shelburne Harbour.

Papers were served Tuesday at the office of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau after the appeal was filed Monday at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax.
“Our lawyer has said that we should not be talking,” Marian Specter said Wednesday when asked to comment.

A website set up by the Specters,, explains their viewpoint and includes a series of 18 newsletters for community members.

“It will show you the process that we went through,” Specter said.

The couple posted the newsletters, an average of one a month, telling folks their concerns about aquaculture goings-on in Shelburne.

Halifax lawyer Andrew Taillon represents the Specters.

“We’ve presented six different grounds under which we think the minister’s decision was unreasonable,” he said Wednesday.

One of the grounds for appeal alleges the minister treated the sites in question as amendments to existing sites rather than as completely new sites.

“We think there’s an issue here with regard to whether or not these are, in fact, brand new licences and leases” said Taillon.

Celeste Sulliman, a provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture Department spokeswoman, said Wednesday there are no new fish farm applications for Shelburne Harbour.

She said there are three existing sites there owned by Kelly Cove Salmon.
Kelly Cove Salmon is listed as a division of Cook Aquaculture Ltd. of New Brunswick.

“We found out about three proposed new salmon aquaculture sites in the inner (Shelburne) harbour,” Marian Specter said in an Ecology Action Centre news release issued Wednesday.

Taillon said the appeal alleges proper procedures were not followed.
“Our understanding and our allegation is that there weren’t any public community meetings held,” he said.

The appeal also alleges the licences violate provincial regulations in the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act.

“We’re also alleging that the decision itself violates certain directives and guidelines that come from (Fisheries and Oceans Canada).”

Taillon said an informal notice was received in March but his clients had no copies of the decision until mid-May.

“We don’t know the date that the minister made the actual decision.”
A motion for directions is set for June 29 in a Halifax courtroom.

“All that’s going to happen there is the court will give directions in terms of what happens next,” said Taillon.

A government response is expected to be filed.

“It would not be our best practice to talk about it in the media,” said Sulliman.

“The minister won’t make any kind of public comment on any kind of legal action that we may be dealing with.”

The province acknowledges new aquaculture site applications have been filed in the region. They are for finfish leases at Blue Island and Jordan Bay in Shelburne County.
“We’re just starting the process on those,” said Sulliman.

Against: Bay St. Mary fishermen and supporters protest process and approach.

BILL POWER Business Reporter, Wednesday, June 15

Groups opposed to open-net salmon farms will be in Halifax on Friday with trucks filled with lobster traps they say will be permanently lost from inshore waters when Cooke Aquaculture proceeds with a couple of new salmon farms in St. Marys Bay.

“These groups are not opposed to aquaculture but to the establishment of open-net farms, which are at the bottom of the list in terms of environmental efficiency,” said Jordan Nikoloyuk, with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.

Nikoloyuk said the province should encourage the use of close-containment aquaculture systems that can be used in the water or on land.

Members of the St. Marys Bay Coastal Alliance and the Friends of Shelburne Harbour will participate in the Friday protest at Province House, beginning at 11 a.m.

The organizations are opposed to the province’s support of rapid expansion of industrial-scale salmon farms despite widespread community opposition, said Nikoloyuk.

“About 80 per cent of the residents of these communities are opposed to the salmon farms that were approved without public consultation,” he said.

Cooke Aquaculture of Blacks Harbour, N.B., has clearance from the province to proceed with two new operations at St. Marys Bay near Digby. The company has a couple of farms in the area and also has farms in Shelburne Harbour and in St. Margarets Bay at Bayswater.

“We are not new to Nova Scotia. We’ve been operating in these communities for about 15 years,” said spokeswoman Nell Halse.

Halse said she was just returning from a meeting the previous evening in Shelburne where about 300 people participated in an open house and about 80 per cent were supportive of Cooke expanding its operations in Nova Scotia.

The company wants to boost annual production in the province to the point that a processing plant would be viable, she said.

It is part of a planned $150-million expansion that could create more than 400 jobs.

“Most of the opposition comments we’re hearing are imported from the anti-salmon farming lobby on the West Coast,” said Halse.

She said the economics and environmental impact of converting all aquaculture of self-contained operations was unrealistic and unnecessary according to various studies and experts.

Cooke Aquaculture is a privately held family business with annual revenues in the range of $450 million.

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