You are here

APES meets with Minister

Fisheries and Aquaculture


Meeting with the Minister – re Open Net Pen issues on the Eastern Shore


On September 3rd , Chairperson Wendy Watson Smith and four other Association members met with Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Colwell to discuss a range of issues regarding open net pen on the Eastern Shore  .  The Minister and his officials provided an hour to hear the concerns of the APES group , and respond to our critical questions .

            The Association first and foremost wanted to get our position in place for the Minister regarding the pending Doelle Lahey Report on Regulatory Review . While we do NOT wish to see the presence of feedlot farms on the Eastern Shore ( or anywhere else for that matter ), without prejudice to that position, we do endorse the complete implementation of the Doelle Lahey recommendations. We are of the belief that were the recommendations fully endorsed, implemented and enforced, many of the existing fish farms in Atlantic Canada would have to cease operations. Most particularly , the coastal conditions of the Eastern Shore would pose a substantial if not complete barrier to open net pen operations in the future  . The Association presented evidence to refute the oft repeated mantra of the open pen industry that it provides a good source of jobs for rural areas , that it is environmentally sustainable and that it is over-regulated . Association representatives also emphasized the threat to the well-established lobster industry and how it would detrimentally affect the growing  potential for tourism initiatives in the region .

  The Minister answered some key questions :

1) The Spry Bay lease application will not be acted upon till post Doelle Lahey and complete province wide reform of the regulatory process . He did not indicate a timetable for this process unfortunately .

2) The current regulatory provisions are not and have not been fully enforced because the province has lacked capacity in this regard . Manpower and equipment have been insufficient and the Minister wants to correct this situation immediately and over time. He spoke of the construction of a new lab facility in Truro  and a major patrol vessel purchase as evidence of improvement and reform .

3) The Minister does not choose to comment on the recommendations of the Doelle Lahey report currently  . Thus far he has only seen the draft version and he will comment when the final version has been received and reviewed .

4) The Minister is not aware of the details of Federal changes re permissible treatments in fish farming . The Minister’s officials say these issues are just being received now and full briefings for the Minister are not scheduled till next week . Further, the Minister takes the view that he and his department cannot influence Federal behavior .  Federal jurisdictional authority is spelled out and cannot be interfered with provincially .

5) The Minister acknowledged that on land closed containment is a fascinating option for the future . He personally has some grave misgivings about the viability of the model ,  claimed ( falsely ) that it has not succeeded anywhere , but that he will follow it with interest in the future .

In general , the meeting was only moderately satisfactory . We were given only an hour to express our concerns, and the Minister countered most of our concerns with a fairly standard response :

                         “ We have to create jobs, but we have to do it right . “

That sounds as if he believes that open net pen is a viable job creator and a net contributor to the provincial economy .  On that score ( and some others ) we regrettably part company …..


Response to APES meeting with Minister Colwell September 3/2014

September 14, 2014

Keith Colwell

Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture

Nova Scotia


Minister Colwell,

I am writing in response to our meeting of September 3rd. I will not respond to all of the comments you made to the concerns that APES members raised, but would like to specifically respond to your statements about jobs and social license in relation to the marine based finfish industry.

Using the departments own statistics marine based finfish aquaculture is not a job creator. If your department has been tasked with job creation this is not the industry to be promoting and is not the way of the future. In Nova Scotia in 2003 the number of full-time equivalent jobs per million kilos of fish produced was 35.8. By 2011 this number was down to 27.1 FTE’s per million kilos of production. When the two sites in Jordan Bay were recently approved the number of FTE’s was only 9.6. With the industries impact on other jobs there may in fact be a negative job gain. The jobs that have been created are largely part-time, seasonal and low paid. We can do better than that.

In September 2010 Cooke Aquaculture promised 350 full time processing jobs by the end of 2011. This didn’t happen. All fish that Cooke harvests in Nova Scotia are processed in New Brunswick. In July 2011, Nell Halse of Cooke Aquaculture stated that a processing plant would open in Shelburne by the fall of 2012. This didn’t happen. What happened to our $25 million dollar investment?

Norway, which is one of the worlds largest producer of feedlot finfish produces six(6) times the amount of salmon that Canada does with the same labour force that Canada currently employs. Increased production does not mean more jobs. It is an industry that is increasingly mechanized.

You said, “that we need to grow our economy in the right way”. This is not the way to do it. More jobs are created by shellfish aquaculture and good jobs can be created by on land finfish aquaculture. We believe that if you do a full cost accounting to include all costs that marine based farms do not presently pay, that the future is on land. If marine based fish farms were required to be environmentally sustainable, without government assistance and no compensation was given for mass mortalities these farms would be an economic disaster.

APES is very disappointed that your government appears to be continuing on the same path as the previous N.D.P. government by dismissing the innovative idea of a land based finfish aquaculture industry. Lobbyists for the ocean based finfish aquaculture industry and their proponents, like Gardner-Penfold have created the myth that land based finfish farms are not feasible. They have conveniently ignored the additional costs of ocean based feedlots referred to above ie: Government handouts, compensation for mortalities, cheap licenses and no responsibility for environmental cleanup. . There are successful land containment systems in France, Denmark, China, USA, British Columbia and here in Nova Scotia. The Ivany Commission calls for “new vision, innovative approaches, greater collaboration and greater willingness to take on risks associated with economic change and progress.” The same old approach is what your office presented to us.

You do not have the social license to proceed with this industry on the Eastern Shore. We have polled the residents of Spry Bay and Shoal Bay and 95% of them are opposed to marine base finfish farming. The risks to those industries on the eastern shore that are our backbone, namely the lobster fishery, shellfish aquaculture and tourism are too high. We maintain our position that is there should be a moratorium on marine based finfish farms until objective science and economic analysis can show that there will be no harm to existing industries and the coastal and estuarine environments of Nova Scotia and until the process for granting or renewing licenses is transparent and repaired of it’s flaws.

We are also very disappointed that Bruce Hancock is in the position that he is as he has an obvious bias towards the industry. Also his “attitude” does not reflect the “change in attitude” that is called for by the Doelle-Lahey panel and your newly elected government. When we asked about the status of the Owl’s Head license, which is a question that should be easily answered by your department, Mr. Hancock’s response was “ask the company”. This attitude does not bode well for the relations between our community , the department and the industry.

Your governments response to the concerns that citizens raised about the fracking issue was a democratic and forward looking decision. Unlike the fracking bans impact on jobs, we are proposing a job creation alternative to the existing ocean based finfish disaster. The development of a land based finfish industry would see Nova Scotia ahead of the pack in a trend that will eventually become the norm. The result is a finfish industry without antibiotics, without the use of pesticides, without polluted harbours and without the threat to the existing lobster/shellfish industry and our wild salmon. Consumers will benefit from a healthy and sustainable food source.

We trust that you will seriously look at the alternatives that we are presenting, and we look forward to meeting and working with your government in the future.


Wendy Watson Smith


Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore



Copyright APES 2012 Website by Ionsign Online