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It's Not A Problem Unless Its A Problem

From Twin Bays Coalition: "These two opinion letters recently published in Saltwire and included below are in line with what we are doing. We'll explain in the coming days."



“When they describe it as ‘World Class’, it’s probably not.” — Silver Donald Cameron.

Whenever our regulatory system for aquaculture is described as “world class,” I think back to Silver Donald Cameron, now deceased. He was convinced that such a moniker was often applied to something actually sub-standard and occasionally worse. And this was particularly the case in Nova Scotia when it came to open-net pen fish farming, which he studied very closely indeed.

“When they describe it as ‘World Class’, it’s probably not.” — Silver Donald Cameron.

Since the Doelle-Lahey report, which reviewed the broad sweep of aquaculture policy in Nova Scotia, we have had new rules and new approaches, but generally speaking the same old, same old when it comes to much of the regulation. Our various governments have continuously bent over backwards to find ways to promote, subsidize and expand open-net pen activity in this maritime province.

When all else fails, an economic reality check might just be appropriate. Open net pen aquaculture does not create nearly the jobs we might want, nor does it generate nearly the tax revenues its proponents would suggest.

Further, it is necessarily based in rural coastal communities — hardly the places where we would want to inflict unwanted environmental “fallout,” and particularly so, given the already damaging realities of climate change.

There is good news, however. We should be so thankful when it comes to seafood. Nova Scotia has the wild fisheries, which are thriving both locally and on the international stage. We also have shellfish aquaculture, which grows exceedingly well, both literally and figuratively. And now, thanks to a fortunate combination of technology and home-grown ingenuity, we even have on land closed containment aquaculture, which can produce proteins the world wants and needs, and do so in a sustainable fashion.

What we do not need in 2022 is open-net pen fish farming in our coastal waters. The benefits are fractional to the vast array of risks.

What we further do not need in 2022 is an Aquaculture Review Board whose mandate is so constrained and restricted that inevitably it can approve all manner of applications. Witness the Rattling Beach decision late last month.

Most of all, what we do not need is the pretense that our system is “world class” when it is anything but.

The reality of the situation is increasingly apparent: until we ensure that transparency, inclusion and social licence are central to the aquaculture decision-making process, we will have utterly failed in the attempt to create a proper administrative process.

Always remember: we have Silver Donald to thank for teaching us this and so much more. His legacy is world-class, which may be the greatest irony of them all.

Stewart Lamont

Managing Director, Tangier Lobster Company



Here’s a quote from the iconic Harry Steele, one of Canada’s most successful, larger than life, businessmen: “Regulatory boards quickly become slaves to those they set out to regulate.”

“Regulatory boards quickly become slaves to those they set out to regulate.”

Mr. Steele died last month at the very moment Nova Scotia’s Aquaculture Review Board was making public at last their decision to license Cooke Aquaculture’s open-net-pen salmon farm at Digby Gut.

You were so right, Mr. Steele. Rest in peace.

Geoff LeBoutillier, HRM

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