PUBLIC MEETING

Monday, June 13th, 7pm

@ the Freeport Community Hall

To discuss the Haugland-Gruppen-Canadian Salmon development proposal, the new pens installed at Long Beach, salmon farming expansion plans around NS, and the lack of community engagement. We are calling on Premier Houston to establish a moratorium on new salmon farms in St. Mary’s Bay, and we need your help.

ST. MARY'S BAY IS UNDER THREAT FROM MULTIPLE FISH FARMING EXPANSION PROJECTS

Once again, St. Mary’s Bay has become a prime target for the fish farming industry’s mass Nova Scotia expansion plans. Not two years since the departure of Cermaq-Canada — the large Norwegian group that pulled out following community opposition — three large fish farming companies want to develop new fish farms or expand existing fish farms in our local waters.

NEW SITES: MORE FARMED SALMON IN ST. MARY'S BAY THAN THE REST OF NOVA SCOTIA COMBINED

So far, we know of five new sites planned by the industry: four proposed by Norway’s Haugland-Gruppen, a.k.a. Canadian Salmon, and one site currently going through a restoration by Long Beach Farms Limited. Altogether, these five sites would see a massive, ecosystem-changing level of production in St. Mary’s Bay, more than doubling all the farmed salmon that Nova Scotia currently produces.

EXISTING SITES AND FUTURE EXPANSION: COOKE PLANS AND AQUACULTURE REVIEW BOARD HEARINGS

Cooke Aquaculture, already operating four sites in near Freeport and Brier Island, have also hinted at expansion in St. Mary’s Bay, starting with the development of a new salmon hatchery in Centreville that the company says will act as a production base for their Nova Scotian operations. One of their existing sites at Brier Island is also up for expansion, but must first go through the Aquaculture Review Board, which looks poised to rubber-stamp more territory for Cooke.

WHAT ARE WE DOING AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?

So, there’s a lot going on! And if these plans come to fruition, it will fundamentally change the nature of St. Mary’s Bay. All of these threats are at different stages of development, and we are doing our best to keep an eye on all of them. We have outlined several details related to the proposed projects below, and we’ll keep you updated as things move along.

In the meantime, we have to act to protect our fisheries, our marine ecosystems, and our communities, and demand that our political leaders work to keep our waters fish farm free. We have outlined a series of actions that every individual can take to prevent salmon farming expansion plans in St. Mary’s Bay at our Take a Stand page. And if you want to get more involved, reach out to us at our Contact page. We’d love to hear from you.

LONG BEACH FARMS LIMITED

The Long Beach site is under construction and could be stocked anytime. Here's what you need to know.

Number of sites: 1   Number of cages: 18   Total area: 19.5ha

Location: Between Tiddville and East Ferry

Production size: Unknown

Project website: Unknown

NSDFA approval documents: (1) Licence renewal, May 2016; (2) lease renewal, May 2016; (3) lease re-assignment, January 2022

Next steps: Site is currently under construction, stocking is approved pending final review by NSDFA.

More details: The Long Beach Farms Limited site near Tiddville has been semi-operational on the Digby Neck for a long time. The first lease and licence was granted by the Province to Harold Theriault in 1996. Since then, the site has been held by several different company names for varying periods of time, including Nantucket Seafarms Inc. (2004-05), Aquaculture Engineering Group (2010-11), and Long Beach Farms. The existing lease and licence renewal was approved in May of 2016 and, most recently, the site was “reassigned” in January of 2022. According to NSDFA documents, this reassignment was granted to allow for the “restructuring” of the Long Beach Farms Limited corporation. No information is provided regarding what this restructuring means, or why a reassignment is required.

Since the reassignment was approved back in January, Cooke Aquaculture vessels have been observed on site on multiple occasions. Full construction began in early April of 2022, with Cooke installing the 18 cages currently held by the company. The government reassignment documents suggest that the company must provide a farm management plan and environmental monitoring data, among other conditionals, before fish can be stocked. Neither the farm management plan, nor the environmental monitoring data will be made public unless a Freedom of Information request is filed and approved. We do not have any further information about the timeline of the approval or the fish stocking process, as all this information stays between the NSDFA and the company. No further consultation with the community is required, despite the fact that the most recent lease renewal occurred in 2016, and the company has the go-ahead from government to resume operation at the site. 

HAUGLAND-GRUPPEN & KARLSEN (CANADIAN SALMON)

Haugland-Gruppen has four site proposals undergoing government review. Here's what you need to know.

Number of sites: 4+   Number of cages: Unknown   Total area: 319ha

Location: Sandy Cove to Central Grove

Production size: 7,500,000-15,000,000-kg

Project website: nsaquacultureproject.ca

Next steps: (1) Review of project documents and approval by NSDFA, (2) Aquaculture Review Board hearing, (3) approval, construction and stocking.

More details: The Norwegian salmon farming conglomerate, Haugland-Gruppen, or “Canadian Salmon” as they call themselves in Canada, has selected four new salmon sites along the Digby Neck and islands. If allowed to proceed, the company would farm 7,500,000-kg of salmon annually to start, with plans to grow operations to 15,000,000-kg or more in the future. The latter number would more than double the amount of salmon farmed in all of Nova Scotia today. This project, if actually developed, will turn the St. Mary’s Bay into one of the largest salmon producing areas in Canada, and will fundamentally change the waters we work on and the communities we love forever. 

To date, the company has released very little additional information about the project. Rather than hosting legitimate community consultations or open houses, they decided to hold two one-hour online “information sessions” via Zoom, on February 7th and 8th, where no questions from the public were allowed. They now consider their duty to inform our community about their project complete, and plan to move forward with the support of the provincial government. You can watch the recordings of these presentations at nsaquacultureproject.ca.

Why we are against net pen aquaculture: 

(click on each for more info and sources)

Danger to lobsters

Farmed salmon are routinely treated, both in their feed and by bathing them, with pesticides used to rid them of sea lice. These pesticides are also lethal in very small amounts to lobster and crab. Some of these pesticides also accumulate in the sediment on the sea bed. https://ecologyaction.ca/files/images-documents/file/Marine/Backgrounder_sea_lice_pesticides.pdf

Jobs? What jobs?

Salmon farms do not create many jobs, and the amount of people they employ now is likely to drop with a switch to more automated fish plants. When you consider the amount of good jobs the local lobster industry employs, does it make sense to jeopardize those jobs for a handful of low-paying salmon-farming jobs? https://responsibleaquaculture.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/where-are-the-jobs/
“Although farmed salmon production in Nova Scotia has increased 1000% from 1995 (1120 mt) to 2017 (11546 mt), the number of people employed in finfish aquaculture is the same (100) in 2017 as in 1995 and full-time employment has dropped 86% from 211 in 1995 to 46 in 2017.” 
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X19301332 http://friendsofportmoutonbay.ca/docs/press-release-is-sustainable-aquaculture-in-canada-lost-in-translation.pdf?fbclid=IwAR00YKDWnQizrvRqn7ahKnwXaeteJt38EVzqHvGssM8Tiqpfka6d_DTkTdc

Danger to whales

Cermaq has a history of whale entrapment in their infrastructure. In 2018, a humpback was luckily released unharmed after 18 hours trapped in a salmon pen.https://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/trapped-humpback-whale-freed-from-salmon-farm-near-tofino/?fbclid=IwAR1aVqnX9HCI8RnWTOOHW4li7rROeEBDmoR3XMxA1fCA6vl89SxT49ee5QY 
In 2013, another humpback was not so lucky and died in a Cermaq pen (operating then under the name of Mainstream Canada). Other salmon farming companies have also had entanglements and deaths (a timeline can be found here: https://mersociety.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/two-months-and-two-humpbacks-entangled-at-the-same-location/?fbclid=IwAR3wbOTb__IbHpi8jYevUDxWp3JaxUsNnFdWUo17OuVI7n-Wi02M-GzpaYg).
As the Saint Mary’s Bay is habitat for multiple species of whale, including the endangered North Atlantic Right whale, we have reason to believe whales will not be safe if Cermaq/Mitsubishi are allowed to put open-pen fish feedlots in our Bay.

Threat to endangered wild salmon

Back in 2011, the DFO published a report saying that open pen salmon farming posed a threat to wild salmon in St. Mary’s Bay. According to DFO (link below) “St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia, is considered to be used as a migratory corridor and feeding grounds in support of growth,maturation, and post-spawning reconditioning” for wild Atlantic salmon, which are endangered almost to the point of extinction. Why, then, was license given to Cooke Aquaculture allowed in this sensitive area, and why is Cermaq able to even entertain the idea of operating here? Source: DFO. 2011. Wild Salmon Populations in the Vicinity of a Proposed Finfish Aquaculture Development in St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2011/001. https://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/343597.pdf

42% fewer lobster caught near net pens

In an 11 year study in Port Mouton Bay, NS, marine biologist and Dalhousie researcher Inka Milewski documented a shocking drop in catches near salmon farms. https://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v598/p85-97/

Huge cost to taxpayers

Did you know that Canadian taxpayers pay out millions of dollars to bail out huge foreign fish farming companies like Cermaq/Mitsubishi every year? Open pen fish farms can lose up to HALF of all of their “crop” every year due to disease, water temperatures, and algae. And our government pays them generously for those losses.

“Once the Canadian Food Inspection Agency detects a reportable disease, it issues a slaughter order and the fish are destroyed. Then the CFIA sends a very large cheque to the fish farm. This taxpayer cheque compensates them for disposable items like infected nets, cost of transport and offloading, cost of sequestering diseased carcasses in perpetuity, and disinfecting all other items that came in contact with the fish, including the boat that transported them. In addition to all this, the commonly accepted extra payment for each fish is up to $30. This figure really comprises an average payment because of all the other costs mentioned.

You’d think the fish farms would have insurance for losses, but my conversations with a marine insurer tell me they have difficulty getting insurance because they lose so many ‘crops’ to – wait for it – disease. So why are we, the Canadian taxpayer paying these foreign, multi-billion dollar corporations?” (from  https://commonsensecanadian.ca/canadian-taxpayers-bail-norwegian-fish-farms-diseased-fish/?fbclid=IwAR28tz2XsH1FgGRxx8tgcPCPI07ci4ZLrxF2qzHJU5AEmtWdfPiaxI5Dk30 )

Displacement from fishing grounds

Cermaq is proposing 4 to 6 farm sites in St. Mary’s Bay to start, covering an area of about 25 acres. This would occlude many fishermen from the fishing grounds that have provided a sustainable livelihood for generations of fishers. Aquaculture infrastructure including net pens, feeding barges, and anchor lines would take over parts of the Bay that many people depend on for their livelihood.

So much poop!

Let’s do some math. Cermaq says they want to start with 4 to 6 industrial feedlot sites in Saint Mary’s Bay. Each site will have an average of 12 circular pens. Each pen will hold about 90,000 fish. That’s somewhere between 4.3 million and 6.5 million salmon. How much waste (poop) would that many salmon produce? What other industry would be allowed to dump that much sewage into our water? Do you think there will still be a market for Saint Mary’s Bay lobsters that grow and live in that? https://www.saltwire.com/news/provincial/opposition-expressed-to-salmon-fish-farm-proposal-for-st-marys-bay-400539/ 

Debris from pens

Debris from marine pen salmon farms is already showing up on our shores, from huge lengths of pvc pipes, to tiny bits of styrofoam. In the past, floating debris from salmon farming has also caused navigational hazards in St. Mary’s Bay. If the industry if allowed to greatly expand as Cermaq hopes, we are worried that the garbage in our water and on our shores will increase as well.  

Farmed fish = less fish in the oceans
Diseases spread to wild fish

When many salmon are forced together in open pen cages they are more susceptible to contagious diseases. Further stresses from hydrolicers (pressure washers to remove sea lice) weaken salmon further, making them more prone to disease. These diseases, such as piscine orthoreovirus, can be transmitted to other types of wild fish native to St. Mary’s Bay, such as herring, mackerel, capelin, and smelt. These diseases are often lethal.
https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/aah-saa/species-especes/aq-health-sante/prv-rp-eng.html

Marine farmed salmon is an unhealthy choice

A study from Cornell University stated …consumers should not eat farmed fish from Scotland, Norway and eastern Canada more than three times a year…” due to large amounts of pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and other contaminants. http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2005/12/riskbenefit-analysis-farmed-versus-wild-salmon

Disasters continue…