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Public hearings set to begin on Digby County fish farm boundary expansion

Kelly Cove Salmon submitted the application in October 2016

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Cooke Aquaculture's subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon is asking for an expansion of the footprint of its lease near Digby.

The Nova Scotia Aquaculture Review Board will be holding up to four days of public hearings on the application by Kelly Cove Salmon Limited to expand the boundaries of its fish farm near Rattling Beach in Digby County.

The hearing will begin on Monday at the Rodd Grand Yarmouth Convention Centre.

Kelly Cove Salmon, a subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture, has had a lease and licence to operate at the site since 2004. Those have been renewed three times since then.

In October 2016, the company applied to the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture to expand the boundaries of its operations to include all of its operations and aquaculture output at the site.

The company is already operating outside its existing lease and licence boundaries, but has not been penalized by the province because of the pending application.

Opponents of fish farms have objected to the province’s approach, saying fish farms, like the Rattling Beach facility, should be forced to conform to previously approved boundaries.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans reviewed the application to determine if deposits such as nutrients, organic material and chemicals and the release of pathogens and sea lice would pose harm to fish and other aquatic species or their habitat. It determined that there were no critical habitats within the proposed lease boundaries.

DFO recommended that the facility ensure compliance with DFO’s legislated mandate, and letters of advice and associated documents were provided to Kelly Cove Salmon.

According to the report on outcomes of consultations, the Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs recommended that “consultation with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia was not necessary” because “no new equipment, species, harvesting methods, yield or structural change are associated with the proposal.”

The application also underwent review by a number of other federal and provincial government departments, none of which have objected to the proposed expansion.