Why Nova Scotia's Aquaculture Review Board is critically flawed and needs a full review
Twin Bays Coalition calls for a review of the provinces net-pen fish farm approval process with province-wide support from local community groups, environmental organizations and wild fish conservationists.
From TBC: "Nova Scotia's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) have initiated a review of our aquaculture legislation and regulations. Regrettably, Minister Craig indicates that this review will not include reviewing the legislation and regulations governing the Aquaculture Review Board (ARB). After only one finfish ARB Hearing, there is ample evidence that this tribunal is fatally flawed. Here’s why:
First, you must live or work within spitting distance of a farm to be considered for intervenor status. This prevents organizations such as TBC from qualifying as intervenor and bringing our breadth and depth of knowledge to the Hearing. This is important because intervenor status is like being a lawyer – you gain access to ALL of the evidence and are given the opportunity to cross examine witnesses. If this sounds like a court room, you’re correct. Which leads us to the second fatal flaw.
It is very unlikely you would see the government or industry representing themselves without a lawyer. Which means that if you are unfortunate enough to live within spitting distance of a farm, you should probably hire a lawyer to ensure a “level” playing field at the Hearing. Lawyers are expensive and individuals or even groups such as Twin Bays Coalition (TBC) very rarely have deep pockets like industry and our government. Therefore, an advantage is given to industry.
The third fatal flaw is that government relies on “letters of advice” from their federal counterparts and other agencies. Doing so insulates those parties from cross examination. If we have concerns about the advice provided by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans on impacts to wild salmon, for example, we can’t cross examine them on what we perceive to be debatable conclusions. Advantage again goes to industry.
Fourth – the ARB made it abundantly clear in their first finfish Hearing that they are not willing to listen to evidence related to government condoned lease infractions by industry. Yet industry was permitted to proclaim their stellar performance since taking over the site. There are five sites that are operating outside of their approved boundaries today. Complaints have been lodged yet government has taken no action. Should that not be admissible as evidence as to the conduct of both government and industry? The ARB is the decision-making body – should it not make these decisions on a well informed basis?
Finally, there is the age-old conflict of interest that plagues government in many sectors. How can they be both promoters and regulators of industry? We ask; “what is the long-term plan for finfish aquaculture in NS?” The answer seems to be expansion. Expansion that is facilitated directly by government adopted legislation and regulations that favour the finfish industry and approvals that are issued at “arms length” by the ARB. In so doing, the government avoids accountability.
These shortcomings are completely unacceptable. They need to be addressed immediately by making the finfish approval process less imposing and better informed. While those changes are being developed and implemented, there is a need for temporary public funding for legal representation to ensure legal parity between the government, the proponents, and objectors.
The Review Board requires Review."
Protect Liverpool Bay fully supports these views and stands by Twin Bays in calling for immediate review of this critically flawed process - one that is clearly designed to favour industry and restrict public input.
View the original post and comments on Twin Bay Coalition Facebook page here.
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