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Wild salmon conservationists, commercial fisheries groups, environmental organizations, sustainable economic development proponents and tourism operators are united in their concern over the Provincial Government’s commitment to expanding open net pen salmon aquaculture in Nova Scotia, according to a news release issued Monday.

Fifty-one organizations, representing a diverse range of interests, have supported a letter to Premier Darrell Dexter requesting that he declare a moratorium on further expansion of open net pen salmon aquaculture. The organizations express support for closed containment aquaculture and small-scale shellfish marine aquaculture – both areas where Nova Scotia has previously been a leader.

“There are potentially significant environmental and economic consequences for tourism, commercial fisheries, coastal water quality, not to mention jeopardizing any rebuilding of the wild Atlantic salmon populations,” says Lewis Hinks of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “We are asking the Premier to begin to engage meaningfully with coastal communities and to consider replacing the current rapid expansion of net pen salmon aquaculture with more responsible avenues.”

Organizations are collaborating in their efforts to bring meaningful public dialogue to the forefront of this issue, particularly in response to controversial open net pen salmon aquaculture expansions in St. Mary’s Bay, Shelburne and the Eastern Shore. Federal charges filed against Cooke Aquaculture of New Brunswick alleging illegal pesticide use and an outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at a Cooke operation near Shelburne, Nova Scotia have further contributed to the opposition and raised significant issues related to open net pen salmon aquaculture.

“We are concerned that the draft Coastal Strategy, which is heralded as a framework for good stewardship of Nova Scotia’s coastline, fails to even mention salmon farms which are the largest industrial expansion on our coasts,” says Marike Finlay of the Association for the Protection of the Eastern Shore. “We see this omission as denial by this government to recognize the real issues facing our coasts.”

“If a “normal day of business” for open net pen salmon aquaculture means disease, killing fish, lost profit, widespread public outcry – do we really want this business?” asks Sindy Horncastle of MAYDAY-Shelburne County. “The ~ 50% profit margin from salmon feedlots comes at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. Show me a farm that doesn’t have to pay for barns, waste removal, air circulation, light, land and taxes on that land – and of course it is profitable.”

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) has submitted a separate letter outlining concerns over open net pen salmon aquaculture expansion and its potential impacts on the tourism industry, which is worth $1.4 billion annually to the Nova Scotia economy.

The following organizations have signed on to the letter sent to the Premier on March 4th, 2012.

  • Community Organizations, Groups and Coalitions Community

  • Association for Preservation of the Eastern Shore
  • Atlantic Coalition for Aquaculture Reform
  • Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Nova Scotia Chapter
  • Citizens for Sustainable Aquaculture Now
  • Coastal Coalition of Nova Scotia
  • Conservation Council of New Brunswick
  • Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association
  • Ecology Action Centre
  • Friar’s Bay Development Association
  • Friends of Port Mouton Bay
  • Friends of Shelburne Harbour
  • Fundy BayKeeper
  • Heavy Current Fishers Association
  • MAYDAY-Shelburne County
  • Partnership for the Sustainable Development of Digby Neck & Islands Society
  • Sierra Club – Atlantic Canada Chapter
  • St. Mary’s Bay Coastal Alliance

  • Wild Salmon Organizations

  • Atlantic Salmon Federation
  • Nova Scotia Salmon Association
  • Antigonish Rivers Association (ARA)
  • Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique
  • Cobequid Salmon Association
  • Cumberland County River Enhancement Association
  • Eastern Shore Wildlife Association
  • LaHave River Salmon Association
  • Margaree Salmon Association
  • Medway River Salmon Association*
  • Mushamush River Salmon Association
  • Musquodoboit River Watershed Society
  • New Brunswick Salmon Council
  • North Colchester River Restoration Association
  • PEI Council of the Atlantic Salmon Federation
  • Queens County Fish & Game Association
  • Sackville Rivers Association
  • St. Mary’s River Association
  • Trout Nova Scotia
  • Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Commercial Fishing Associations

  • 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association
  • Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association (ESFPA)
  • Fundy Fixed Gear Association
  • Fundy North Fishermen’s Association
  • Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association
  • Lobster Fishing Area 33
  • Lobster Fishing Area 34

  • Tourism Operators

  • Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises Ltd.
  • Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia
  • Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shore*
  • East Coast Outfitters
  • Freeport Whale & Seabird Tours*
  • Gambrel Group Outdoor Adventure