Cooke Aquaculture’s intention to take over Clearwater Seafoods whether John Risley or Colin MacDonald want to sell or not, is only part of the story.
What’s more important to realize is that Cooke, a private company from New Brunswick, is demonstrating the deep pockets of their wealth at the same time they are negotiating for millions of dollars from the Nova Scotia provincial government, and encouraging Nova Scotian citizens to also lobby their government to give away our tax dollars to a company that clearly doesn’t need the money.
Cooke’s vertically integrated empire includes companies in Atlantic Canada, Maine, Chile, and now Europe, with their recent $70 million dollar purchase last month of Culmarex, the largest seabass and seabream farming operation in Spain. While represented and understood as a locally run family business, their transnational operations and multi-million dollar company acquisitions demonstrate that they operate at a far different scale.
Conversely, let’s take a look at the small-scale sustainable aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia and where there is real and immediate need for support. Long-term shellfish farmers that have contributed to this economy for years and shown responsible stewardship of the environment are struggling for their very survival. Provincial government support should be directed here instead to ensure these businesses remain and continue to employ Nova Scotians in coastal communities.
Cooke Aquaculture needs Nova Scotia more than Nova Scotia needs Cooke Aquaculture. Clearwater Seafoods wants no part of a deal that is only good for Cooke, and the provincial government and Nova Scotians should stand together and take the same stance.
Sustainable Seafood Coordinator
Ecology Action Centre