Just got this from Digby Municipal Councillor David Tudor about a meeting tomorrow at the Digby Municipal Building at 6pm. Spread the word!
On Monday I intend to bring the debate on the Salmon cages to a close and to make the following motion.
Whereas the people who work and live on the Saint Mary’s Bay do not want an expansion to the Salmon Farm industry; therefore the Council of the Municipality of Digby opposes the expansion of the Salmon Cage industry in the Saint Mary’s Bay.
If this motion is to have any chance to be successful we will need the largest turn out yet at the Digby Municipal Building
Monday, January 27 at 6 PM.
12548 Hwy 217, Seabrook
My suggestion is to bring friends and family.
If you want to call your Councillor please do. You can find the contact info at the following link.
(Jimmy MacAlphine is the elected rep for the area that includes Bear River. 902 245-8746)
Please forward this email to any of your friends that might attend tomorrow’s council meeting.
People showing up will make a huge difference in whether or not council will bend to the will of the people.
I need you to come. The Bay needs you to come.
The Saint Mary’s Bay is the economic engine for this part of the province.
Precaution dictates that we must not risk it for a handful of low paying jobs.
Thank you so much,
(What follows is some background information about the opposition to the expansion of fish farms in St. Mary’s Bay.- Flora)
The company is planning other open house sessions in Digby County in the early part of February.
There were packed rooms in Digby for two open houses on Jan. 15 held by salmon fish-farming company Cermaq, that has operated on the west coast of Canada and hopes to establish operations on the east coast. It is exploring lease options in St. Mary’s Bay, Chedabucto Bay (Guysborough area), around Green Bay/Lunenburg Bay/Mahone Bay and in St. Margaret’s Bay.
The company is determining whether “a path forward” exists in these areas. Such an expansion would double its Canadian operations.
The majority of people who attended the recent sessions in Digby expressed opposition, raising numerous concerns.
“You have just met people who have a vested long-term interest here. We live here, it’s our community,” said local resident Shirley Langpohl. “We want you to understand we didn’t invite you. We don’t want you here. We love our fishing industry and our community and St. Mary’s Bay is an environmental nightmare with you. One broken cage and we have a horror. We want you to go.”
During the afternoon session, which the Tri-County Vanguard newsroom attended, were many members of St. Mary’s Bay Protectors, a local group strongly opposed to open pen fish farms in the bay. The group is very active on social media and has presented to Digby municipal council.
Cermaq is hoping the public gives the company a chance for continued dialogue and keeps an open mind.
But many people have big concerns over ocean pollution, along with displacement and harm to the fishing industry. Many pointed to the lobster fishery, specifically. They say the industry is a backbone of the economy and can’t be put at risk.
Cermaq sustainable development director Linda Sams reiterated the last thing the company wants to see is harm caused to the lobster fishery. But many in the room said they fail to see how this can be avoided.
Local resident Roger Outhouse also spoke of the importance of the bottom of the bay. He said this needs to be a “clear, pure” water system and he worries about the impacts of aquaculture operations, especially on life-sustaining plankton.
“It’s been argued many times by people saying, ‘oh, it’s a small chunk of real estate,’ but it’s really much larger real estate that you’re talking about,” he said, adding the area can’t risk having dead zones underneath salmon pens.
In response, Sams said the company doesn’t call them dead zones, but rather “an area of impact.”
“If you’re farming properly and managing your impact . . . you should be able to predict how big it is, and usually the farthest we see it is about 100 metres from cage out and it’s reversible,” over time she said, saying a broadscale monitoring program is important to have in place.
Outhouse and others suggested there wouldn’t be as much opposition if the company were looking at an onshore aquaculture program instead of farming salmon in the bay.
In St. Mary’s Bay, and also Chedabucto Bay, the company’s options to lease will expire on March 28, 2020. Since that’s a Saturday they’re eyeing March 27 to make a decision as to whether to pursue the region further.
In Nova Scotia the company is looking to have a production capacity of 20,000 metric tonnes annually. To achieve this it would need operations in multiple regions.
“We think that would look like approximately 15 to 20 (farm) sites spread across all of the four locations in Nova Scotia,” said the company’s east coast sustainable development director Vicki Savoie. “We have not found any one area in Nova Scotia that could support our entire proposal production of 20,000 metric tonnes or 15 sites.”
A generic farm site would include at least 10 net pens that are each 128 metres in circumference (52 metres across). Each net pen would be approximately 22 metres in depth and would be surrounded by a secondary net for predator protection.
“We’ll be looking at a fish population that can include anywhere between 85,000 and 90,000 fish per pen,” Tom Foulds, Cermaq’s sustainable and environmental manager said.
The company says a Nova Scotia expansion would create 250 to 300 direct jobs spread throughout the different regions. If Cermaq chooses to submit an aquaculture licence application, there would be at least another year-long process (or longer) for further engagement, feedback and feasibility work.
Filing an application does not guarantee that any development will occur or that a lease and licence will be awarded. But if there was an application for St. Mary’s Bay and it was successful, you’d likely be looking at 2025 as the earliest that the company could start to see its own fish grown, it was stated.
In other parts of Nova Scotia where the company has options to lease, those expire on April 7. The company has applied for extensions.
Cermaq said it has been hearing from and speaking to people beyond Digby County.
“There are people who have expressed interest, there are certainly people who have shared with us they have a lot of concerns,” Savoie said. “I’ve heard a real diverse spectrum.”
“We have heard a lot of concerns from the fishermen and that makes complete sense given that fact that that is their workplace, their environment and a development such as ours poses a risk to their livelihood,” she said. “There’s been a lot of really impassioned dialogue.”
Long list of concerns
During the Digby session people noted the tides and weather in this region make things unpredictable. Has Cermaq farmed in areas with tides like the ones here, many asked? The company response was it hasn’t, which caused increased concern in the room.
People raised concern about disease and sea lice, how those things are treated and potential impacts on wild fish species. They also had questions about the feed the company uses. A Cermaq representative, noting the fish farmed is for human consumption, said there was nothing in the feed she wouldn’t feel comfortable eating herself. She offered to demonstrate that but no one asked her to follow through.
Some people said it is difficult to put long-term faith in anything they are being told because if Cermaq was ever bought out by another company things being said now might not apply then, therefore trust is an issue.
Tom Haynes-Paton, a member of the St. Mary’s Bay Community Society and the St. Mary’s Bay Protectors, asked to hold an informal vote. By the time a vote was taken at the end of the three-plus-hour-long afternoon session many people had already left. Of those still present eight said they were supportive of Cermaq’s plans and 22 were opposed.
One person did speak in favour of the company’s proposal. Martin Karlsen said he welcomes what Cermaq is proposing for the bay, saying it would be good for the economy and it is important to diversify.
“It is government’s job to set rules and regulations; it is up to the industry to follow them,” said Karlsen, adding aquaculture is happening throughout the world, which is a good thing, and it should continue to expand to other areas. “We, as citizens of this world, our job is to make sure that you guys as an industry follow the rules,” he said. “I hope that things develop in Nova Scotia for you guys or others because it is sad to see the rest of the world developing aquaculture and we don’t.”
But not everyone shared his support during the session that was often combative.
On tables in the room were petitions that read, “Go away and do not come back,” which many people signed.
Cermaq is hosting other sessions in Digby County in the coming weeks:
• Thursday, Feb. 6, 5-7 p.m. Clare Veterans Centre, Saulnierville
• Friday, Feb. 7, 2-4 p.m. at Sandy Cove Fire Hall
Cermaq also has a Facebook page and a website. It’s website is called hellonovascotia.ca
The local group St. Mary’s Bay Protectors is also holding public meetings on this issue:
• Monday, Feb. 3, 6:30-8 p.m. United Church hall, Digby, corner of Prince William St. and First Ave.
• Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the Clare Municipal Offices, 7 p.m., at 1185 Little Brook and on
• Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the volunteer fire department on highway 217 in Sandy Cove
Visit the group’s Facebook page for more information.