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Why don’t politicians listen to fish farm opposition


I am writing to express opposition to Cermaq and Cooke’s proposals to expand open-net fin farm operations into St. Marys Bay and Nova Scotian waters.

The villages of Westport, Freeport and Tiverton are opposed. Much of Digby Neck is opposed, and our municipality is also in opposition. Each bay with options to lease has strong opposition: St. Marys Bay, Liverpool, Mahone Bay, St. Margarets Bay and Hubbards.

The question remains: with such strong opposition, why are politicians not listening to constituents?

Nova Scotian coastal communities have a long history of residents earning their living from the sea. Dories were once used to catch groundfish and lobster and sustained our ancestors — today many of our residents still rely on the ocean for their economic existence, in the fishery or in eco-tourism.

Our tourism industry is $2.61 billion per annum and growing. The sights, sounds and smells of industrial operations littered along the coastline do not add value to the tourism brand Nova Scotia has worked so hard to achieve.

Our fishery is worth hundreds of millions per year. It offers middle-class salaries in coastal communities where similar wages are difficult to find.

Low-paying aquaculture jobs cannot compete with our fishery or tourism jobs. We do not want the jobs offered by Cermaq and Cooke; the environmental and social costs are too high.

Nova Scotians pay a premium in property taxes for waterfront real estate. How will industrial scale fin-fish feedlots affect our property values? Allegedly, they could decrease by up to 35 per cent. How will property owners be compensated for this? Is the provincial government prepared to offer payments to property owners for decreased values?

Cermaq claims its operations are sustainable, but we do not agree. The sheer size of the proposed sites throughout Nova Scotia will displace traditional fishers, both First Nations and others, crowding other areas. Chemicals from feedlots, escaped and dead fish, debris on the shores, sea lice treatments, algae blooms, fish feces, and blood-water, will have a negative impact on these waters and change our traditional way of life.

The provincial government claims that gold standards in aquaculture will prevent problems in the industry. As of yet, it is not clear what these standards consist of. Every day, another news story tells of global disaster in this industry.

If the federal government is phasing out open-pen fin farms on the west coast of Canada, why would we want that industry here?

Katherine Feiel lives in Freeport.