Yesterday, Nova Scotia’s new Aquaculture Review Board was scheduled to release a decision on an application to expand the boundaries of a fish farm in the Annapolis Basin, but that decision has been delayed.
Full Article below from: Halifax Examiner |January 26, 2022 BY ETHAN LYCAN-LANG
The Board is deciding on an application from Kelly Cove Salmon, a division of Cooke Aquaculture, to expand the boundaries of its fish farm at Rattling Beach, where they’ve been operating beyond the site’s government-approved boundary since at least 2015. A hearing for the application was held in late November last year. Should the Board approve the expansion, existing operations at the Rattling Beach fish farm will then all be within the approved boundary.
The Halifax Examiner reported on the hearing in December, after a spokesperson for Kelly Cove told the Board there was a spike in sea lice at the company’s Victoria Beach and Rattling Beach fish farms, a potential threat to the health of the area’s endangered wild salmon population. Concerns about the impact of open-net fish pens on wild salmon in British Columbia contributed to the federal government’s decision to phase out the practice on the west coast by 2025. So far, no similar ban has been announced in Atlantic Canada.
A decision on the Rattling Beach expansion application was expected on Tuesday. On that day, however, the Review Board posted an update to its website, saying the decision has been pushed and is now expected at the end of the week.
The reason for the extension is vague. The post on the Board’s website only says the Board is “relying upon Section 27 of the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Licence and Lease Regulations to extend the timeline (if necessary) and ensure that the Board has sufficient time to complete the decision on this application.” In case you were wondering, section 27 of that document gives the Review Board broadly defines the Board’s authority in adjudicating hearings:
(1) If procedures are not provided for in these regulations or in the Act, the Review Board may do whatever is necessary and permitted by law to enable it to effectively and completely adjudicate on the matter before it. (2) The Review Board may dispense with, amend, vary or supplement all or part of the procedures for adjudicative hearings set out in these regulations if it is satisfied that the special circumstances of the application before it so require or it is in the public interest to do so.
The Aquaculture Review Board was created following the 2014 Doelle-Lahey (yes, that Lahey) aquaculture regulatory review, which recommended the creation of “an independent Board to hear and determine applications from the public to have [an aquaculture] licence revoked where there is clear evidence of biophysical unsuitability of the site, or where there is a clear pattern of substantial non-compliance with terms and conditions of the licence.” In 2015, the province amended the Fisheries and Coastal Act to create the Review Board, but did not include the option for the public to bring applications forward.
At the time, the Ecology Action Centre, which was denied intervenor status in the current case before the Board, voiced disappointment that the public wouldn’t have an opportunity to bring concerns about fish farms to the Review Board.
The Aquaculture Review Board website now describes the body as “an independent decision making body with a mandate to decide on aquaculture applications in marine areas for new sites, expansions to existing sites, and the addition of finfish species to sites not currently approved to produce finfish.”
When it finally comes, the decision regarding Kelly Cove’s expansion application will be the first in the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Review Board’s short history.