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PLB NEWS

Who's in and who's out in landmark fight over Nova Scotia Salmon Farm expansion

Cooke wants to put 1.8 million caged salmon in Liverpool Bay. "Regulators have chosen who will be allowed to intervene in hearings on a massive salmon farm expansion proposed on Nova Scotia's South Shore and they do not include the Lunenburg-based authors of Salmon Wars, a book sharply critical of the salmon farming industry." - CBC


"This week the Aquaculture Review Board (ARB) granted intervenor status to five groups opposed to Cooke Aquaculture's application to triple the size of an existing salmon farm at Liverpool Bay.


It is the first new salmon farm proposed in Nova Scotia in many years and the first one to come before the quasi-judicial board created in 2015 to enhance public confidence in decisions around aquaculture."


"The stakes are considerably higher in the Liverpool Bay application launched by Cooke Aquaculture, a New Brunswick-based industry giant with wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture operations around the world.


Cooke subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. has applied to expand its existing fish farm at Coffin Island, and open two new ones at Brooklyn and Mersey Point in Queens County."


If approved, each site would contain 660,000 fish — a 370 per cent increase in the number of farmed salmon in Liverpool Bay.


The board rejected all the individuals who asked to intervene in regulatory hearings set for February and March 2024 on the grounds they are not "substantially and directly affected" by the proposal."


Excerpts above from:

CBC News | October 25, 2023 | Paul Withers


On behalf of the hundreds of concerned and affected local residents that Protect Liverpool Bay Association represents we are pleased to have been granted Intervenor status in the upcoming hearing for Cooke's net-pen expansion plans for Liverpool Bay. We are also pleased to see the Region of Queens Municipality, The Brooklyn Marina, KMKNO (the Kwilmu'kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiation Office for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs), and a united group of Fishers also were granted status. At the same time it's disappointing many other applicants were denied (or asked to withdraw before even being denied or approved).


In a hearing process that is incredibly intimidating, time consuming and potentially costly for any member of the public to participate in, it's discouraging to see individuals who feel personally impacted, who took the initiative to step up and be willing to invest their own time and money to participate at an intervenor level but were rejected. What harm is it to approve them and then consolidate them with other concerned individuals? After all, this is what was done in a recent Antigonish hearing.


HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED IN ANTIGONISH


In that recent ARB hearing for a proposed massive scale oyster farm in Antigonish Harbour, there were 17 intervenor applications, and all 17 applicants were approved, the 17 were comprised of both groups and individuals, and including individuals who were also part of one of the groups. All were granted status, and then, all approved intervenors were consolidated into three different groups.


"The Review Board has determined that all intervenor applicants will be granted intervenor status and will be consolidated as follows"... - Antigonish Intervenor decision document

The nature of concerns over the oyster farm in Antigonish Harbour are very similar to that of fish farms in Liverpool Bay. Many of the Antigonish intervenor applicants were adjacent property owners. It is notable that even those who the ARB described as only marginally impacted were approved as intervenors.


"The Review Board has determined that, although some of the applications are marginal in terms of “substantial” impact, all applicants demonstrate a direct association with Antigonish Harbour." - Antigonish Intervenor Decision Document

The Board's decision was stated to be based on the following case law:

"In Canadian Elevator Industry Education Program (Trustees of) v. Nova Scotia (Elevators and Lifts Act), 2016 NSCA 80, Bryson J.A. commented: “the merits should not matter when considering private interest standing for the simple reason that a party who has an interest in the proceeding should not need to demonstrate the strength of his case to obtain the standing to make it” - Antigonish Intervenor Decision Document


BUT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT IN LIVERPOOL


For the hearing in Liverpool no individuals on their own were approved as intervenors, not even one whose property is as close as about 600m from a proposed new fish farm site (as shown on the 'nearby property owners map' on page 167 of the posted Application Documents,Vol.1, which depicts properties within a 1km distance of a site ). Unlike the Antigonish hearing, individuals weren't given the consideration of being approved and then consolidated with other intervenors, instead, they were denied status and recommended to make written submissions or oral presentations as members of the public.


Considering the Board's policy on consolidating, it's surprising the South Queens Chamber of Commerce were denied status. As a group who's members participated in a vote resulting in 100% opposed to the fish farm expansion in Liverpool Bay, a public resource, applying for intervenor status as group with joint concerns would seem the preferred approach. However, in this instance the ARB suggested the Chamber's individual business owners should have applied for intervenor status individually.


It can be confusing for the public to try and understand the rules or process of the hearing even as written in the regulations because both the ARB and the DFA Minister have discretion to override the regulations and apply their own judgement. Which can often leave one guessing or lost in trying to find applicable reference to regulations. We are respectfully following the rules we know of and will have to do our best to respond to whatever requests and decisions are put forth by the ARB throughout this process.


One thing is evident, the main difference between the Antigonish hearing and the Liverpool hearing is, the proponent in Antigonish was not Cooke Aquaculture.




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