TREPA on aquaculture statement

Stephen MacNeil, Leader, Nova Scotia Liberal Party,
Jamie Baillie, Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia
Premier Darrell Dexter
Stirling Belliveau, Minister of the Environment
Stirling Belliveau, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture
Zach Churchill, MLA, Yarmouth
Chris D’Entremont, MLA, Argyle
John Sollows,
Executive Director,
Tusket River environmental Protection Association,
P.O. Box 103,
Tusket, N. S.,
B0W 3M0

Date: July 16/12

The various attempts to divide interested citizens into pro- and anti-aquaculture camps are a dishonest oversimplification of reality.

Aquaculture should certainly have an important place in the rural economy of Nova Scotia, but we need to give a lot more priority to the issue of sustainability than the current government is doing.

The current discussion needs to focus on open cage culture of salmon.

Salmon are carnivorous, for a start, and therefore widespread culture has the potential to put added pressure on wild “forage” fish species, which are used to feed the farmed fish. Furthermore, cultured carnivorous species tend to be expensive to grow, and have limited potential to feed poor, hungry people.

More particularly, the wastes from large scale open cage operations pollute, which can make problems for the farmed species, the environment around the cages, and the wild species which depend on this environment. Local resource users, such as lobster fishermen, are rightly worried about the dangers large-scale cage culture may pose to their livelihoods.

We recognize that salmon culture has economic potential, and encourage the government to take a serious look at land- based alternatives, wherein the wastes from the fish can be turned into another resource. As an environmental group, we oppose open cage culture of salmon; we are particularly worried that the government is encouraging the rapid expansion of some farms and the “dropping” of other good-sized farms into relatively pristine embayments.

Every embayment and every water body is unique. Expansion, if advisable, should be more by tenths than by tens, and whatever happened to pilot-scale testing? It is foolhardy to assume that a hundred cages in a harbour will perform the same as ten cages. As resources are consumed and wastes reach toxic levels, negative feedback should be expected.

There have, for instance, been salmon cages in Shelburne Harbour for quite a few years. Why did ISA show up this year? Looks to me like a shot across the bow of the expansionist boat.

Finally, I think policy-makers need to be reminded of a very important pair of questions, a pair which should influence every decision: “Who benefits?” and “Who pays?” If the answer to both questions is different, decision-makers could be promoting injustice.

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