Over 100 Organizations and Businesses Renew Call for Moratorium on Open Net Pen Finfish Farming; Aquaculture Strategy Inadequate | Ecology Action Centre

Over 100 Organizations and Businesses Renew Call for Moratorium on Open Net Pen Finfish Farming; Aquaculture Strategy Inadequate

the crowd at the rally

Over 100 Organizations and Businesses Renew Call for Moratorium on Open Net Pen Finfish Farming; Aquaculture Strategy Inadequate

For Immediate Release, June 4th, 2012

HALIFAX – More than 100 organizations and businesses including wild salmon conservationists, commercial fisheries groups, environmental organizations, sustainable economic development proponents and tourism operators gathered today in Halifax, united in their concern over the Provincial Government’s commitment to expanding open net pen salmon aquaculture in Nova Scotia.

The Atlantic Coalition for Aquaculture Reform is now 108 member strong, and is asking for a moratorium on further expansion of open net pen salmon aquaculture until such time as adequate scientific and economic analysis can be done, to ensure that aquaculture in Nova Scotia is developed in the best manner possible.  While there is general support for shellfish farming and closed-containment finfish farming, the coalition says the government’s new aquaculture strategy, released on May 29, does nothing to accommodate the concerns raised about environmental impacts, government subsidies and the lack of public consultation, particularly in coastal communities which will be most affected.

“Open net pen salmon aquaculture has significant environmental and economic consequences for tourism, commercial fisheries and coastal water quality, not to mention jeopardizing any rebuilding of the wild Atlantic salmon populations,” says Lewis Hinks of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “We’ve asked the Premier and the Fisheries and Aquaculture minister to engage meaningfully with coastal communities and to consider replacing the current rapid expansion of net pen salmon aquaculture with a more responsible approach – we’ve never received a response.”

“We simply cannot risk our lobster fishery – even the idea that lobsters are being exposed to salmon sewage and sea lice pesticides will jeopardize our international markets… our customers want lobsters that come from a pristine environment,” says Stewart Lamont from Tangier Lobster. “No where else in the world do coastal communities and a species of fish rely so heavily on a healthy inshore fish habitat – Nova Scotia is unique.”

Organizations are collaborating in their efforts to bring meaningful public dialogue to the forefront of this issue, particularly in response to controversial open net pen salmon aquaculture expansions in St. Mary’s Bay, Shelburne and the Eastern Shore. Federal charges against Cooke Aquaculture of New Brunswick alleging illegal pesticide use, and an ongoing outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at a Cooke operation near Shelburne, Nova Scotia have heightened communities’ concerns about the risks of open net pen salmon aquaculture.

“The new aquaculture strategy is vague, there was no public consultation process in advance of its formation, which is not the case for the majority of other provincial policy development processes. This strategy appears to have been written by the salmon farming industry itself,” says Raymond Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre.

Communities are also having to do their own science, while government ignores academic peer reviewed science. Community organizations cite failures in the government monitoring program and environmental impact assessment process. 

“The provincial monitoring program focuses on one indicator – sediment sulphide levels – which indicate the health of seafloor. This indicator is not an adequate indicator of the impact of open-net aquaculture and we’ve found that footprint of aquaculture impact is larger and more persistent than sulphides can reflect,” asserts Ron Loucks, an oceanographer who has conducted research on aquaculture impacts in Port Mouton Bay.
 
While some proponents are offering an alternative model to large-scale expansion, communities are not convinced. Bill Williams of the Association for the Protection of the Eastern Shore has been reviewing the environmental impact assessments for proposed aquaculture expansion in that area,  “I think it is time our provincial politicians take their head out of the sand and take some of the anti open water salmon feed lot concerns to heart. The new plan proposed for the Eastern Shore will be no different than the way they farm in Scotland. I have stacks of pages from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency that verifies the use of multiple chemicals on their Scottish sites. The majority of citizens along the Eastern Shore will not stand idly by and watch their pristine waters be used as a test tube.”

“For decades the province has “championed” the marine finfish industry and communities forced to accept “fish farming” have been ignored”, says Darlene Norman of Friends of Port Mouton Bay, “Oceanographers conduct studies that illustrate areas unsuitable for open pens, yet leases are granted and renewed. Fishermen speak of the negative changes they observe in the marine environment once fish farms are established, yet their concerns are dismissed. Evidence is presented that challenges the ‘just perfect for rural Nova Scotia’ governmental view, and again the facts are disregarded. “

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HALIFAX –  More than 100 organizations came together in Halifax today to oppose the Provincial Government’s commitment to expanding open net pen salmon aquaculture in Nova Scotia. The Atlantic Coalition for Aquaculture Reform is calling for a moratorium on further expansion of open net pen salmon aquaculture until there is a strategy based on comprehensive science and public consultation. The coalition includes wild salmon conservationists, commercial fisheries groups, tourism operators, environmental organizations and proponents of sustainable aquaculture. They say the government's strategy, released on May 29, ignores concerns they have raised about environmental impacts, government subsidies and lack of public consultation--particularly in coastal communities which will be most affected.

For further information contact:

Lewis Hinks, NS Regional Director, Atlantic Salmon Federation
275-3407 (w), 275-7494 (c), lhinks@auracom.com

Stewart Lamont - 885-5204, 456-0712 (cell), Stewart@tangierlobster.com

Raymond Plourde, Wilderness Coordinator
442-5008 (w), 478-5400 (c), wilderness@ecologyaction.ca

Darlene Norman, Friends of Port Mouton Bay ross.surf@n.sympatico.ca (902) 683-2530, 350-3350

Bill Williams, Association for the Protection of the Eastern Shore - 885-2786, 885-5911(cell), claire.williams@ns.sympatico.ca

Ron Loucks, Friends of Port Mouton Bay, ron.loucks@ns.sympatico.ca (902) 443-1113

This release is supported by the following organizations, associations and businesses:

Conservation and Sustainable Economic Development Organizations
Association for Preservation of the Eastern Shore
Atlantic Coalition for Aquaculture Reform
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Nova Scotia Chapter
Citizens for Sustainable Aquaculture Now
Coastal Coalition of Nova Scotia
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
East Coast Environmental Law Association (Provincial)
Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association
Ecology Action Centre
Friar’s Bay Development Association
Friends of Port Mouton Bay
Friends of Shelburne Harbour
Fundy BayKeeper
Heavy Current Fishers Association
MAYDAY-Shelburne County
Partnership for the Sustainable Development of Digby Neck & Islands Society
Sierra Club – Atlantic Canada Chapter
St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance
Avon Peninsula Watershed Preservation Society (Hants County)
GPI Atlantic (Provincial)
Halifax Field Naturalists (Halifax County)
Citizen Action to Protect the Environment (Hants County)
Five Bridges Wilderness Heritage Trust (Halifax County)
Friends of Nature (Lunenburg County)
Indian Point Young Naturalists Club (Halifax County)
Nature Nova Scotia (Federation of NS Naturalists - Provincial)
Nova Scotia Organic Growers Association (Provincial)
Sage Environmental Program (Provincial)
Save Our Seas and Shores (Northumberland Strait)
Shambhala Sustainability Initiative (Halifax County)
St.Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association (Halifax County)
Stewards of St Ann's Harbour Association (Victoria County)
Transition Bay St. Margarets (Halifax County)
Tusket River Environmental Protection Association (Yarmouth County)
Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy (Lunenburg County)

Fish and Game Conservation Organizations
Antigonish Rivers Association (Antigonish County)
Atlantic Salmon Federation (Atlantic Canada)
Cheticamp River Salmon Association (Inverness County)
Cobequid Salmon Association (Colchester County)
Cumberland County River Enhancement Association (Cumberland County)
Digby East Fish and Game Association (Digby County)
Eastern Shore Wildlife Association (Sheet Harbour)
Eastern Sport Fishing Association (Guysborough County)
Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique
Friends of Cornwallis River Society (Kings County)
Fundy Fish and Game Association (Colchester County)
Halifax Wildlife Association (Halifax County)
Hants West Wildlife Association (Hants County)
Inverness South Anglers Committee (Inverness County)
Kings County Wildlife Association (Kings County)
LaHave River Salmon Association
Lunenburg County Wildlife Association (Lunenburg County)
Margaree Environmental Association (Inverness County)
Margaree Salmon Association
Medway River Salmon Association
Mulgrave and Area Lakes Enhancement Association (Guysborough County)
Mushamush River Salmon Association
Musquodoboit River Watershed Society
New Brunswick Salmon Council
North Colchester River Restoration Association
Nova Scotia Salmon Association (Provincial)
PEI Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation
Pictou County Rivers Association (Pictou County)
Queens County Fish & Game Association
Sackville Rivers Association
Saint Mary’s Fish & Game Association (Guysborough County)
Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador
St. Mary’s River Association
Strait Area Fish and Game Association (Richmond and Inverness Counties)
Trout Nova Scotia (Provincial)
Tusket River Gaspereau Dipnetters Association (Yarmouth County)
West Pictou Wildlife Association (Pictou County)
Wildlife Habitat Advocates (Hants County)
Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization (Halifax County)

Commercial Fishing Associations
1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association
Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association (ESFPA)
Fundy Fixed Gear Association
Fundy North Fishermen’s Association
Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association
Lobster Fishing Area 33
Lobster Fishing Area 34

Tourism Operators & Outfitters
Bill’s Quality Flies Ltd.(Eastern Shore)
Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises Ltd.(Brier Island)
Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia
Chasing Silver Fly Fishing Shop (Truro)
Cybernetic Media – NovaScotiaFishing.com (Bridgewater)
Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shore
East Coast Outfitters (Terrence Bay)
Fishing Fever Fly & Tackle Shop (Halifax)
Freeport Whale & Seabird Tours
Gambrel Group Outdoor Adventure
Magic on the River Tackle Shop (Sherbrooke)
Murphy’s Camping Ltd. (Murphys Cove)
Patagonia Halifax (Halifax)
Salmon Hole Lodge Ltd (Bedford)
Central Nova Tourism Association (Colchester & Cumberland Counties)

Municipalities*
Municipality of the District of St.Mary's (Guysborough County)

* The Villages of Freeport, Westport and Tiverton have launched a court case against the province of Nova Scotia for open net pen finfish expansion and the Municipality of Queens has requested a moratorium on open net pen expansion.