N-S imposes a moratorium on fish farming, the time to assess its coasts

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The N-É imposes a moratorium on fish farming, the time to assess its coasts

Aerial footage of a fish farm in Bayswater, Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia has quietly imposed a moratorium on applications for new offshore fish farms until that it assesses, maps and grades its coasts for the most suitable locations.

Since the Progressive Conservative government took office in 2021, Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Steve Craig has not issued lease options of open net enclosures.

He says there are companies interested and he is not authorizing any of this at this stage until that coastal classification be completed.

The ban does not apply to companies seeking sites for the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed.< /p>

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Coastal classification was an important recommendation of the 2014 Doelle-Lahey review of aquaculture in the province.

This report states that coastal areas should be classified green, yellow or red depending on their relative suitability for finfish aquaculture.

Howie Manchester, a marine biologist with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans , at the Okisollo salmon farm, near Campbell River, British Columbia.

It also acknowledges the widespread distrust of fish farming, but concludes that the risks of marine finfish aquaculture can be mitigated and that this industry has the potential to make a significant contribution. to the sustainable prosperity of Nova Scotia.

The Progressive Conservatives pledged to implement coastal mapping for aquaculture during the 2021 election campaign.

Assessment is conducted by the Marine Applied Research Center, an independent division of the provincial government.

The coastal classification project, which began this year, has a budget of $3.65 million and is expected to last three years.

Steve Craig, Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The goal is to provide a detailed map of areas that are scientifically suitable for open-net enclosures. Minister Steve Craig sees it as a support tool to help adjudicate claims.

We have 13,000 kilometers of coastline in Nova Scotia, he says. I would be surprised if there were a thousand of them suitable for marine fish environments. I don't know what that number is, but I think we can get a better idea.

Fish farm applications already in progress follow the existing process.

They have the right to go through the system to the Agriculture Review Board for a decision, says Nova Scotia's Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. /p>

Where I have full latitude is to allow people to participate and offer a rental option, and I don't #x27;have authorized none of these options.

The Province established the Independent Review Panel in 2015 and has so far only made two decisions.

A spokesperson for Cooke Aquaculture, the only open-net pen salmon farm operator in Nova Scotia, says the process is incredibly slow.

Workers at Cooke Aquaculture near Blacks Harbor in New Brunswick on July 13, 2017.

Cooke has several years of requests to expand existing fish farms and is awaiting hearings before the Aquaculture Review Board.

It is concerning that there has been essentially very little growth in the industry in Nova Scotia from the perspective of seafood development in the aquaculture industry for crustaceans and finfish, says company spokesperson Joel Richardson. /p>

It adds that Cooke planned to spend $122 million to modernize its operations in Nova Scotia over the next five years.

L&#x27 The company has open net pen salmon farms just outside Halifax, at Saddle Island along the south shore and around Halifax Bay. e Fundy in the Digby area.

With information from CBC's Paul Withers

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