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In an interview published the week of June 27 in the Fish Info Services News Line, referring to the community opposition to the ambitious plans by Cooke Aquaculture to increase their operations in several coastal communities in Nova Scotia, Cooke vice president Nell Halse said that “Most of the opposition comments we’re hearing are imported from the anti-salmon farming lobby on the West Coast.”

Nell Halse and Alphamax

Cooke VP Nell Halse displays restricted pesticide Alphamax, which Cooke used to treat noxious sea lice infestations at Cooke farms in New brunswick

Some community members in the affected Nova Scotia towns think Ms. Halse’s assertion is “patently absurd.” Says Sindy Horncastle of Mayday Shelburne County, “If Cooke had consulted with the most important stakeholders, the fishermen in our area, they would know that the majority of fishermen are opposed to the practice of industrial salmon farming and the threat that tons of waste poses to their rich lobstering grounds. The Nova Scotian government is certainly aware of the opposition to open-pen salmon farming in Shelburne, Digby, and Queens counties.”

The issues raised in every coastal community in Nova Scotia where the industry intends to place industrial-sized, open-net salmon farms, have been specific to that community,” says Karen Crocker of St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance. “Community groups in Port Mouton, Shelburne, Jordan Bay, Freeport, Long Island, St. Mary’s Bay and elsewhere have consistently raised questions about the wisdom and safety of open-net salmon farming.”

Halse told the FIS reporter about a Cooke open house in Shelburne where 80% of the attendees were in favour of new fish farms, but failed to mention that a week later, a community dialogue meeting was attended by more than

100 residents who gathered to hear presentations from experts regarding the science surrounding habitat effects from open-net farms and the market trends in probable decrease in demand for fish farmed by open-net or other unsustainable methods. The second meeting was widely covered by provincial and regional media.

“The opposition of 80% of island residents in our area has nothing to do with anything happening on the West Coast”, adds Karen Crocker. “This continual misinformation by Cooke executives should be seen for what it is, which is a blatant attempt to deflect public and media attention from the growing opposition to industrial fish farming on both coasts of Canada and in Norway, Scotland and Chile.”

This latest misinformation from Halse follows on the heels of her recent  assertions that salmon in Shelburne Harbour were being moved with a large well boat as a result of requests from the Port Authority, the Yacht Club and local residents. Subsequent research showed that none of the groups made any requests to move fish in the harbour. Halse also recently told a reporter in Maine that Cooke’s strong interest in more development in Nova Scotia rather than the USA is due to the lax government standards there. (see story here)

Mayday Shelburne County
Sindy Horncastle

St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance
Karen Crocker