Coming Soon to a Cove Near You!
Recently our Nova Scotia Dept. of Fisheries and
Agriculture announced a public consultation regarding three new marine cage fish farms proposed in the vicinity of Sheet Harbour,
Halifax County. The notice appears below.
The Eastern Sportfish Association (ESA) sent a written submission to the department and plans to attend the
public meeting. ESA’s concern in this matter is the survival and well-being of current and future populations of wild
and stocked Atlantic salmon and other sport fish in Nova Scotia’s eastern shore streams. We believe that sport fishing
and finfish aquaculture can both provide significant economic benefit to rural communities and that they can be harmonious.
ESA supports closed land-based
aquaculture of finfish that poses no risk to the environment and to Atlantic salmon and other sport fish populations while
providing important economic benefit to rural communities in Nova Scotia.
However, we oppose any marine cage cultivation at the above listed sites because there is strong evidence
that this system decimated wild Atlantic salmon and other species in areas such as our Bay of Fundy, western Scotland, and
Norway. We also recognize that it also puts our very important lobster fishery at risk.
ESA urges the government of Nova Scotia to amend regulations
such that they require closed land-based systems for all future finfish aquaculture development. Such systems have proven
profitable and environmentally safe.
This could become a tremendous opportunity for us. If Nova Scotia adopts this new strategy quickly we could become
the world leader in aquaculture development while providing economic benefits to many of our rural communities and minimizing
environmental impact. It will also enable Nova Scotians to work together for the greater good rather than polarizing public
opinion as marine cage cultivation has done recently.
Furthermore, we must look well beyond the next
provincial election to sustain Nova Scotia’s finfish aquaculture opportunities for the future. If Nova Scotia fails
to adopt this new technology we could become a world loser rather than a world leader. Closed land-based systems don’t
require proximity to ocean coastlines. They can be implemented anywhere in the world. About 80% of Nova Scotia’s farmed
salmon is currently exported to the USA. What will this new technology do to that market? What will it do to Nova Scotia?
A good example of a next generation fish farm is Teton Fisheries, LLC, located near Choteau, Montana, USA. It’s a creation of the Miller
Hutterite Colony, a
salmon farm on the high plains of Montana.
North America magazine reported on Teton’s recirculation system in the Sept/Oct 2011 issue, “Traditionally, energy
costs have been a problem for recirculation aquaculture systems; however, HTE (HTE Biofilter designed by Holder-Timmons, LLC,
sold by Aquacare Environment,Inc.) has a developed a prototype that is predicted to reduce energy costs by a factor of five.
Land, facility development costs, and labour costs will vary from area to area. However, the ability to rear a desired species
in any desired location with very low water and land requirements solves most of the constraints that have kept North American
aquaculture from competing effectively with producers located in developing nations.”
Our aquaculture industry has stubbornly insisted that closed land-based systems are too costly to be competitive.
It’s similar to the automobile industry saying that it can’t afford to produce safe cars! The real question that
the industry must now consider is “Can we afford NOT to switch to closed recirculation systems?”
We’ve seen the consumer reaction to organically grown foods. Such products are clearly
branded to differentiate them from inferior products and we are willing to pay more to these responsible producers. Why hasn’t
the aquaculture industry done the same?
Two years after the Nova Scotia
Salmon Association’s (NSSA) liming project on the West River Sheet Harbour proved successful in restoring Atlantic salmon
reproduction, we see marine cage aquaculture sites being proposed in very close proximity to both sides of that river’s
estuary. NSSA’s acid rain mitigation program began when a lime doser was installed in 2005. When one imagines the money
and effort expended on the project since then, it must be very discouraging indeed to see this aquaculture development licensed
and supported by government.
And speaking of government, where is our federal Dept.
of Fisheries and Oceans? As custodians of our wild Atlantic salmon how could they permit marine cage aquaculture on Nova Scotia’s
eastern shore when Atlantic salmon there are designated an endangered species by COSEWIC?
Nova Scotians have a clear choice here; Does aquaculture have any real future in Nova Scotia? Do we want
short term jobs or a secure future? Could tourism generated by a thriving sport fishery better provide this future? Do we
care about our marine environment and wild fish? Should we put our lobster and sport fisheries at risk? These are some important
questions we can ponder between now and the next provincial election!
Here’s the government announcement. This is an important decision for our future, so I urge you to attend the
public meeting or to make a written submission.