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UPDATE: Open pen fish farms an issue for South Shore chapter

The South Shore chapter of the Council of Canadians, situated south-west of Halifax, has been active in exploring the issues of open-pen fish farming in Nova Scotia as part of their series Democracy in Action.

On January 25, the chapter screened Silver Donald Cameron’s documentary Salmon Wars – Wild Fish, Aquaculture and the Future of Communities at the Mahone Bay Centre. About 80 people attended the screening including local NDP MLA Pam Birdsall who brought Dr. Vimy Glass, newly-appointed Manager of Aquaculture Development. They heard a unanimous chorus of concern from the articulate participants.

Birdsall took issue with a number of points in the film, including: “In the movie, Silver Donald Cameron claims that our government has plans to establish massive new fish farms and expand existing fish farms around the province. …Under past Liberal and Conservative governments, over 50 open pen licences were issued. Our government has moved very cautiously since we were elected, approving only two new projects, one in Jordan Bay and one in St. Mary’s Bay.”

Birdsall shared her notes with writer/director Cameron, inviting his response. Their comments are posted on the Salmon Wars website http://www.salmonwars.com.

Cooke Aquaculture and Port Mouton Bay
The South Shore chapter is situated reasonably close to the Port Mouton area. In February 2012, the Chronicle-Herald reported that the Friends of Port Mouton Bay had scientific proof that the Cooke Aquaculture-owned fish farm polluted Port Mouton Bay with antibiotics, pesticides and copper, and is killing lobster larvae. Cooke Aquaculture is North America’s largest Atlantic salmon farmer. Waste and chemical residue effects remain a serious concern for coalitions opposed to allowing fish farms to occupy sensitive ecosystems.

Snow Island Salmon and Shoal Bay
Earlier this week, CBC reported, “In an unprecedented move, the NDP government in Nova Scotia has rejected a fish farm application (by Snow Island Salmon Inc., a subsidiary of the Scottish aquaculture company Loch Duart Ltd.). It was a salmon project proposed for Shoal Bay, on the province’s eastern shore. Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau said it was a decision based on science.” The Canadian Press adds, “Several groups have asked for a moratorium until a full environmental assessment can be done on open-pen farming to determine its impact on wild salmon, the lobster fishery and residents.”

The documentary Salmon Wars can be watched in full at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfxzvlzazz0.