Nova Scotia Coalition Against Cooke Aquaculture Files Supreme Court Appeal

A group made up of St. Mary's Bay Coastal Alliance, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the LFA 34 Lobster Fishermen, the Freeport Community Development Association, and the Villages of Freeport, Tiverton, and Westport appealed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to prevent the establishment of what would be the largest fish farm in the province.

Ecojustice, the law firm representing the coalition, said that the fish farm would threaten not only the traditional lobster fishery, but also endangered species such as the North Atlantic right whale, roseate tern, harlequin duck, and wild Altantic salmon. Ecojustice laywer Hugh Wilkins said "the appeal addresses whether (Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau) had the constitutional jurisdiction to issue the licenses and whether it was reasonable for him to neglect communities concerns, gaps in the scientific evidence and socio-economic impacts."

In a controversial decision early in June, the Aquaculture Minister approved two salmon feedlots to be run by Cooke Aquaculture. Ecojustice lawyers asked the court to stay that decision until the appeal's outcome is decided, a process that can take several years. Cooke has already began stocking one of the farms and is commencing with the construction of the second one. According to a spokesman, Cooke "followed all required procedures to obtain the licences and co-operated fully with government science and environmental assessments and consultation processes."

David Pugh of Westport says that "families have been fishing lobster here for generations" and that "the arrival of these salmon feedlots will put an end to that, displacing the lobster fishery with lower-paying, unskilled jobs."

St. Mary's Bay Coastal Alliance member Karen Crocker claims evidence from similar fish feedlots in New Brunswick shows that "they will significantly deteriorate the habitat for key commercially harvested fish and significantly displace and diminish the quality of the existing lobster fishery in the area."

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