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SW New Brunswick Fishermen Speak Out about the Impacts on their Fisheries from Open-net Salmon Farms. They have lived it.  This is their story.  

A study has recently been conducted by Coastal CURA (Community University Research Alliance) which documents observations by SW New Brunswick fishermen, as to the impact of open-net salmon farm operations on their fisheries. This study will be presented at a conference being held in Halifax the end of June. Here are some excerpts from this study.  Download report here

“Fishermen involved in lobster, herring, scallop, and sea urchin fisheries all reported observing significant environmental changes around aquaculture sites.”

“Within two years of an operation being established, fishermen report observing that berried female lobsters abandon the area, scallop and sea urchin shells become brittle, scallop meat and sea urchin roe becomes discoloured and herring no longer come into the area.”

CURA Aquaculture & Traditional Fishery report

Download report here

“Aquaculture operations are also linked to lobster, crab and shrimp kills in the down-current area. “

Fishermen report that “ lobster are no longer found in the same numbers in formerly productive fishing grounds, and that they are routinely steaming out into deeper waters to set lobster  traps…”

“Fishermen who set lobster traps in areas frequented by aquaculture boats have experienced gear entanglements and gear loss.  Fishermen in adjacent fishing grounds observe that the pressure on their stocks has increased, as fishermen displaced from aquaculture locations are moving into adjacent waters.”

Fishermen also reported “a sharp increase in lobster mortality. Dead lobsters have been pulled up in traps, observed on the bottom by sea urchin divers, and have also been washed ashore near aquaculture sites.”

“Lobster fishermen who hold lobster for market in lobster pounds reported significant increases in “shrink” or lobster mortality.”

“Fishermen are also concerned about the impact on their industry if traceability requirements or adverse affects among consumers result in report of Bay of Fundy lobsters having absorbed chemicals used in aquaculture.” (“Recent harmful algae blooms in the Bay of Fundy have been linked to toxins in lobster (see Sephton et al 2007).”)

“Lobstermen have had problems in the past when trace elements of paralytic shellfish poisoning closed Asian markets to Bay of Fundy lobster. As markets have been very sensitive to contamination problems, any trace of chemicals in the lobster could lead to long-term damage to their industry.”

“They (fishermen) fear that future year classes could show sharp drops as a result of chemical use (by the aquaculture operators) and due to loss of habitat in nursery areas.”

“Fishermen from all three locations associate aquaculture sites with water quality problems and note that starfish seem to be attracted to those areas.”  “Starfish particularly cluster around aquaculture sites and are viewed as a sign of ‘the end of the fishery’ as they are associated with poor water quality and ‘bad bottom’.”

“Fishermen in this study rejected the argument that aquaculture is good for the economy of the coastal communities.”  “In the beginning, aquaculture operators bought supplies such as fuel and nets from local businesses and offered competitive wages… However, fishermen believe that as aquaculture become concentrated in fewer hands, fewer benefits have accrued to local coastal communities.  For example, fishermen noted that fish processing plants are now employing foreign workers rather than local people while wages for those working on the cages have dropped to an average of twelve dollars per hour. Fishermen noted that independent fishermen can make a much better income than can a wage employee off an aquaculture operation, and even seasonal crewmembers on fishing boats earn more than employees of aquaculture companies. “

“Fishermen uniformly reported that they had tried to work with the aquaculture industry and had relied on the traditional fisheries and aquaculture working group to develop solutions to their mutual problems… But fishermen later discovered that the aquaculture industry had not been forthcoming with them…”

If the NS government is allowed to charge ahead with open-net finfish aquaculture development, this will become our story – or, with ever increasing allowance of pesticide usage, even worse.  Life as we know it is at stake. Communities: Circulate NB’s story.  SW Nova Scotia Fishermen:  Pass along to other fishermen this powerful information that the SW New Brunswick fishermen have provided, and band together – Nova Scotia’s lobster industry alone is worth $400 million – you have power.  Show your muscle.

                                                So what do communities and fishermen do NOW?

Many people and organizations have written numerous letters to Transport Canada, about the proposed St. Mary’s Bay project, during the Screening assessment. It has been a frustrating exercise following this governmental process, but necessary, as pointed out by the lawyers.  Other NS communities have had similar experiences in battling fish farms in their communities. What now?

First, you have to realize that it is NOT a ‘done deal’, even though Cooke’s would like you to believe that, so you stop fighting.  Their arrogant attitude should actually add fuel to the fight.   Port Mouton Bay and Horse Island (St. Margaret’s Bay) ultimately had to put pressure on the politicians, and this is what proved successful. Since the governmental process has not to date proven to be in our best interests, we have come to the point where pressure must now be put on the politicians by all of us, in every community – there IS strength in numbers. We must all make this effort/Act to Save Our Coastal Fisheries. 

St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance is now working closely with other community groups along our coastline that are also being threatened by aquaculture development.  We have alliances with community groups in Shelburne Harbour and Jordan Bay, NS.  Fishermen there are facing the same battle in preserving their fishing grounds as we are here.  Aquaculture sites have been proposed for their bays as well as ours.  We are not alone…

Make a phone call; write a letter or email to notify the politicians that allowing open-net fish farms in our coastal waters is NOT in your best interests. (If you’ve already called or written, please do it again.)

                                We have told them our concerns, so what do we say this time?

You need simply to state that a study done of NB fishermen observations, documents negative impacts of open-net salmon farming.  And, until such time as scientific, etc. studies are done that prove the contrary – that prove without a doubt that this industry doesn’t cause harm to the marine environment, the traditional fisheries or the coastal communities– you demand that no more industrial open-net salmon farms are placed in the waters. If you would like to see this completed study we can provide it to you.

(Government and industry in their “public confidence “ campaigns, paid for by public money, are leading the public to believe that this industry causes no harm, without scientific evidence to support these claims.) You also might like to remind the politicians that they are supposed to be working for YOU.

One community, one organization cannot go it alone and make this happen. We all have the health and well-being of our coastal fisheries and communities at stake – we all need to make it happen.  MAYDAY! No More Factory Fish Farms! This needs to be heard by politicians here and throughout the Province.

Contact information:

Junior Theriault  MLA Digby Annapolis
Constituency Office
310 Highway #303 – Conway
P.O. Box 1038
Digby, Nova Scotia
B0V 1A0

Phone: (902) 245-2991
Fax: (902) 245-6853
E-mail: junior@ns.aliantzinc.ca

Hon Sterling Belliveau
Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
3rd Floor, 1741 Brunswick Street
P.O. Box 2223Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3C4

Phone: (902) 424-8953
Fax: (902) 428-3145

Greg Kerr
MP West Nova
233 Water Street
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

B5A 1M1
Phone: (902) 742-6808
Fax: (902) 742-6815

Visit the new website:  www.saveourcoastalfishery.com    for more information on these issues.

Submitted by: St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance