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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia – May 30, 2011: Flawed review process demands higher level environmental assessment of St. Mary’s Bay Aquaculture Project

Aquaculture Assessments Should be Required to Evaluate
Socio-Economic Impacts On Communities

When concerned community members met with Fisheries & Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau and Deputy Minister Paul LeFleche a few weeks ago, the Minister indicated at that time that the Province was not yet engaged in “the process” for the St. Mary’s Bay aquaculture project, because it was still at the federal level and no final decision had been made by Transport Canada (TC).  At that time, the Screening Report had been issued. The report concluded that the project will not result in significant adverse environmental effects and recommended that the two salmon farm sites for 2 million salmon be permitted. This recommendation was made, despite the fact that no significant scientific data had been collected in regards to the impacts of the operation on local fisheries and the ecosystem; and despite the fact repeated requests had been made by the public for a more thorough environmental assessment due to the limited scope of the screening.

We have now received the final response from Transport Canada in regards to the comments made by the public on the Screening Report. Many comments were submitted by community groups, citizens, and numerous organizations including: the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the New Brunswick Salmon Council, Fundy Baykeeper, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick Action, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Nova Scotia Chapter), Westport Village Commission, the Islands Women’s Institute, Friends of Shelburne Harbour, The Fundy Fixed Gear Council, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, and St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance.

crowded fish in salmon farm Nova Scotia

Flawed fish farming approval policies

And, yet again, the response from TransportCanadaremains the same.  Many of the concerns submitted were answered by TC merely stating: “the concerns do not fall within the scope of a federal screening“.  For example: TransportCanadadetermined that comments related to potential impacts to the local economy could not be assessed as part of this environmental assessment.

This is totally unacceptable for a project of this size and its potential impacts on our future and the future of our fisheries.  So, Minister Belliveau, we again request that a more thorough environmental assessment be completed in regards to this application, such as a Panel Review.  Only by doing this will you and your department be able to accurately determine the potential effects of industrial salmon farming on the existing environment and surrounding communities, and make an informed decision.

Under its guise of “public participation” the province is circumventing its responsibilities to the people of NS.  The Province and Federal government repeatedly reference that the public is being given ample opportunity to participate in the process at the federal level.   And, we have participated/responded repeatedly to these opportunities. However, what is the good of being asked to participate in a process, when the government can and does simply dismiss public concerns and requests? Governments simply respond: “Your points raised will be carefully reviewed”, “These comments will be considered during the federal environmental process for this project”, or the generic line:  “your comments do not fall within the scope of this review process, and therefore Transport Canada cannot comment“.

How does this process actually address public concerns and assess all the potential impacts of aquaculture projects?  The government of Nova Scotia needs this information to make informed, responsible decisions with regards to industrial aquaculture and the effects on citizens/ communities of the Province.

This process is flawed. This process does not afford transparency, any due diligence of socio-economic impacts, or due process.  For our MP’s and MLA’s to sit by idly and allow this  process, a process that does not look out for their constituents and the essential fisheries that will keep coastal Nova Scotia viable, is not acceptable.  It is the responsibility of those who we have elected, and trust to work in the best interest of the people of Nova Scotia, to step up to the plate and demand that Transport Canada review this application with a more thorough environmental assessment than a simple screening.  It is the job we have elected them to do.

St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance
c/o Karen Crocker
902-839-2923                                                                                                    freeportwhale@gmail.com

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