St. Mary’s Bay Protectors
Protéger La Baie Sainte Marie

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We are thrilled to announce that Cermaq Canada has decided to not pursue open-net pen aquaculture in Nova Scotia at this time. We may have won this battle, but we have not yet won the war – we are still working to bring an end to open net-pen aquaculture in our waters. We, the St. Mary’s Bay Protectors, have teamed up with other like-minded groups from across the province, and are now proudly part of the Healthy Bays Network.

So, what’s next?

 As Cermaq backs away from their development proposal in the face of local opposition to this industry, we ask our elected officials to show us the same respect. There are multiple and well-informed reasons why people from Norway, British Columbia, NFLD, and now Nova Scotia, thoroughly oppose open net finfish industries: sea lice, fish feces (aka nitrogen load), risk to wild salmon, reduced lobster catches, lack of community consent, lack of transparent reporting, public monies used to pay for private losses, and the threat to existing industries and jobs, stretching from fishing to tourism. 


Now it’s on to Cooke Aquaculture

Just as firmly, we reject Cooke’s proposals to dramatically increase the size of their existing fish farms and expand their presence in our waters.  We oppose them for the same reasons we have argued against letting Cermaq Canada set-up shop in St. Mary’s Bay and elsewhere in Nova Scotia.

The St. Mary’s Bay Protectors, along with Protect Liverpool Bay Association, the Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation are now working with Ecojustice lawyers to demand that the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister of Environment stop facilitating lease and licence violations at five open-net pen sites operated by Kelly Cove Salmon (Cooke Aquaculture). 



For more than 10 years, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Department of Environment have allowed the company to operate outside of its lease boundaries at five of its open-net pen sites in Nova Scotia. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has facilitated these ongoing lease violations by knowingly accepting lease expansion applications from Kelly Cove Salmon that did not fulfill the requirements of the Aquaculture Lease and Licence Regulations.

The provincial government has never enforced the Aquaculture Lease and Licence Regulations requirement for Kelly Cove Salmon to hold public information meetings before submitting lease expansion applications for these sites. In essence, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has unlawfully granted Kelly Cove Salmon de facto lease expansions at these sites without requiring the company to go through the legally mandated approval process.


Community groups and individuals call on NS government to prioritize communities and enforce aquaculture laws


 You can read our demand letter here: 

You can also read this news story from the Chronicle Herald here: 


Letter calls on two N.S. Liberal cabinet ministers to enforce salmon farm leases

Francis Campbell, Jan 13 2021

A number of groups say it’s time the province stopped turning a blind eye to lease violations at salmon farm sites near Liverpool.

“There are 18 fish farms in Nova Scotia, five of them are operating outside their lease,” said Brian Muldoon, a member of Protect Liverpool Bay who lives in Beach Meadows along the bay.

“We’ve known this for years and we’ve explained it to the minister before and they keep ignoring all of our letters.”  (read more…)


“MOVED and seconded for Council to oppose the further expansion of the salmon cage industry, in the St. Mary’s Bay.”
January 27, 2020

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.

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?
“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.”

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. 
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:
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.

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.

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 )

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? 

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.

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.

Disasters continue…