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Mitsubishi's Fish: A look at N.S.'s failures in regulating the net-pen Industry - Linda Pannozzo

Tim Bousquet: "We’ve published an in-depth investigation by Linda Pannozzo, who looks at the failure to implement a new regulatory regime for fish farms in Nova Scotia as recommended by the 2014 Doelle-Lahey report. That failure is particularly important now that Cermaq Canada is looking to expand operations into provincial waters......

More from the Halifax Examiner's Tim Bousquet on Linda Pannozzo's Mitsubishi’s Fish:

Pannozzo unpacks many aspects of fish farms, but one that jumped out at me was this:

It’s probably fair to say that fish farms have been good for their owners, but when all things are considered, benefits to local communities have been largely overstated. According to provincial data, over the last 25 years, production and sales in finfish aquaculture (salmon, trout, halibut, bass, etc.) have skyrocketed from just 1.5 million kg in 1995 to 8.2 million kg in 2018. Over the same time period, sales increased seven fold to more than $74 million in 2018.

But despite the promise of jobs, technological “innovations” have resulted in jobs being shed, not gained. In the finfish industry — where there’s been a five-fold increase in production since the mid-1990s — the number of jobs has actually declined. In 1995, 311 people were employed in the industry, 100 of those full-time. By 2018 only 189 people were employed, and of those, 138 were full time.

Our provincial government has long been focused on increasing exports as the source of supposed future full employment, but these numbers show that increasing exports from fish farms increases employment marginally, if at all — but at great risk to our environment.

I’m reminded that just yesterday Philip Moscovitch quoted Emily Tipton, co-owner of Boxing Rock Brewery:

Everyone’s looking for a quick fix to get them through. There’s no quick fix. Years ago, Cooke aquaculture was going to move to Shelburne and open this giant salmon processing plant and have all these fish pens and they were going to create, I can’t remember, 200 jobs, 400 jobs whatever. So half the community really wanted it and half the community really didn’t and the government gave them a bunch of money.

You know it’s just a complete disaster because the people who are making jobs 400 at a time are coming here not to give to it, not to build, not to invest in it. They’re trying to make money off it. They’re thinking, “This is the cheapest place that we can process this fish. Let’s do it here. And the government’s going to give us money. Let’s do that.”

Whereas craft breweries are an example of a much more organic approach to rural economic development. I think real economic development happens by creating 10 jobs at a time not 400. Because we’re not going anywhere. Even if I wanted to, I’m stuck here. If you had 20 businesses like that, that each created 10 jobs, that’s way better because you’re way more resilient, if one of them doesn’t work. Whereas when the Cooke Aquaculture thing didn’t work out? That’s a giant gaping hole. We all got our hopes up and then nothing happened.

It’s true that Boxing Rock is probably not a big exporter, so there’s a complex question about where and how wealth is generated, and people can take different positions on that. From my view, however, we’re betting our entire economy on this casino that promises a short term payoff of free “Money From Away” — from tourism, or by catering to financial institutions that provide tax avoidance schemes for billionaires, or by sending a bunch of fish to China, whatever — without considering the social, environmental, and yes, ethical costs of chasing that wealth.

I’ve been writing about this forever, or at least since 2013:

Anything for Money From Away. What we won’t do is invest in our own students, so they can graduate debt-free and generate homegrown wealth — because that view of the world doesn’t fit the ideological filter of mercantilism. We worship rich people who might bring money here. Our own hard-working people are worthless, because they have no money.

Fish farms are just the latest roll of the loaded dice, the pot always going to the house, with the managerial dealers at Province House getting a tip along the way. We sucker citizens keep rolling, rolling, rolling, lured by the never-ending promise of Money From Away, and we never seem to quite understand why we’re ending up broke at the end of the day at the casino.

In any event, Pannozzo’s investigation is a long but important slog. Grab a cup of coffee and have a read through.

Click here to read “Mitsubishi’s Fish.” If you are not a subscriber to the Halifax Examiner, please please consider subscribing to support incredible investigative journalism pieces like this one. Or bookmark the link and check back again in a month or so when they may share the article publicly.

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