South shore N.S. residents rally against proposed fish farm expansion
On World Ocean’s Day, a group of N.S. residents staged a rally protesting an aquaculture expansion planned for their area.
Making their voices heard on a march through Liverpool, N.S. the group was calling foul on a planned fish farm expansion.
“This ocean is ours, the province of Nova Scotia has to take a stand against this,” said Brian Muldoon, founder of the ‘Protect Liverpool Bay’ group.
Muldoon dressed up as Neptune, the Greek god of the sea, for the occasion, but his message was serious.
“These waters are pristine now, but they won’t remain that way,” said Muldoon. “All of our bays are too shallow to accept open pen fish farms.”
The cause for concern is a proposal by Cooke Aquaculture to expand its salmon farming operation in the area and add two new sea sites.
Its application for the expansion of the existing fish farm in Liverpool Bay was sent to the province this March to be reviewed by both provincial and federal regulators, and an independent review board.
The Protect Liverpool Bay group says adding more farmed fish to the waters will only bring pollution in the form of fish feces, and lots of it.
“It’s like we’re travelling backwards, and I don’t know how people in political power can ignore the evidence,” said Liverpool resident Kelly Connolly.
But Cooke Aquaculture disputes those claims.
“We have been sustainably operating a Best Aquaculture Practices and government certified Atlantic salmon farm in Liverpool Bay since 2011 and enjoy being part of the community very much. We are continuing our local engagement to share information, answer questions, and provide an ongoing link between the community and the company,” wrote Joel Richardson, Cooke Aquaculture Inc. VP of Public Relations in a statement to CTV News.
Muldoon points to Shelburne Bay, about 60 km from Liverpool, as an example of what can go wrong with fish farms.
“There’s a bay down there, Shelburne Bay, and they did a study. The capacity rate was they could handle 200,000 fish without damaging the Bay. They now have 1.4 million fish there,” explained Muldoon.
The Protect Liverpool Bay group says they have retained an environmental law firm to help it apply for intervenor status as part of the review process for the project later this year.
The group is also encouraging its supporters to write postcards to the province’s Minister of Fisheries Keith Colwell, who is in charge of aquaculture in Nova Scotia.
Minister Colwell was not available on Saturday for an interview, and his department did not issue a statement.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.