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AN ALLIANCE of salmon conservationists, commercial fisheries groups, environmental organisations, sustainable economic development proponents and tourism operators has expressed its concern over the commitment made by Nova Scotia’s Provincial Government to expand salmon aquaculture.

Fifty-one organizations, representing a diverse range of interests, have supported a letter to Premier Darrell Dexter requesting that he declare a moratorium on further expansion of open net pen salmon aquaculture. The organisations express support for closed-containment aquaculture and small-scale shellfish marine aquaculture – both areas where Nova Scotia has previously been a leader.

“There are potentially significant environmental and economic consequences for tourism, commercial fisheries, coastal water quality, not to mention jeopardizing any rebuilding of the wild Atlantic salmon populations,” says Lewis Hinks of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “We are asking the Premier to begin to engage meaningfully with coastal communities and to consider replacing the current rapid expansion of net pen salmon aquaculture with more responsible avenues.”

Organisations are collaborating in their efforts to bring meaningful public dialogue to the forefront of this issue, particularly in response to controversial open net pen salmon aquaculture expansions in St Mary’s Bay, Shelburne and the Eastern Shore. Federal charges filed against Cooke Aquaculture of New Brunswick, alleging illegal pesticide use and an outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at a Cooke operation near Shelburne, have further contributed to the opposition and raised significant issues related to open net pen salmon aquaculture.

“We are concerned that the draft Coastal Strategy, which is heralded as a framework for good stewardship of Nova Scotia’s coastline, fails to even mention salmon farms, which are the largest industrial expansion on our coasts,” says Marike Finlay of the Association for the Protection of the Eastern Shore. “We see this omission as denial by this government to recognize the real issues facing our coasts.”

“If a ‘normal day of business’ for open net pen salmon aquaculture means disease, killing fish, lost profit, widespread public outcry – do we really want this business?” asks Sindy Horncastle of MAYDAY-Shelburne County. “The ~ 50% profit margin from salmon feedlots comes at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. Show me a farm that doesn't have to pay for barns, waste removal, air circulation, light, land and taxes on that land – and of course it is profitable.”

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) has submitted a separate letter outlining concerns over open net pen salmon aquaculture expansion and its potential impacts on the tourism industry, which is worth $1.4 billion annually to the Nova Scotia economy.

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