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Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture critic (and Liberal Digby MAL) Harold ‘Junior’ Theriault wants the NDP government to prove that large open-site aquaculture farms in Nova Scotia are environmentally safe and will not harm traditional fishery operations.

The MLA for Digby-Annapolis has written the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to ask that any scientific-based data around this issue be released for public examination.

"I firmly believe aquaculture plays a key role in economic development, but we must make certain that no ill-effects will come to our traditional fisheries," says Theriault. "Aquaculture can be central to revitalizing a fishing industry that has fallen on hard times – it should not replace our traditional fisheries such as lobster or scallop, but instead should augment and support these conventional forms of fishing."

Last week, the NDP government approved permits for large scale open-site aquaculture farms in St. Mary’s Bay and recently approved permits for large farms in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The decision has caused considerable concern and anxiety for a number of local residents and many in the commercial lobster fishery.

Theriault believes aquaculture should be pursued as a viable industry in Nova Scotia, but “only if it can be done in a safe and sustainable manner that does not negatively affect our traditional fisheries. My family has been fishing here for over 200 years and the last thing I want is to encourage anything which would threaten our existing fishery, especially the lobsters.”

"We know aquaculture can be done safely and we know that the lobster fishery is one of the chief economic generators in Nova Scotia," says Theriault. "This is not just work – it is a way of life for thousands of people. But we need to see the evidence that operation of large sites, such as the ones approved last week, can be done without harming the environment and damaging an industry that’s been the backbone of Nova Scotia for hundreds of years."