Former mayor voices opposition to fish farm expansion

By Observer Staff

Mayor David Dagley may be undecided on fish farm expansion in Liverpool Bay, but his predecessor has come out strongly against it.

In a Facebook post, former Region of Queens mayor Christopher Clarke announced he is “firmly opposed” to Cooke Aquaculture’s plans to add to its existing operation, which features 400,000 salmon in 14 different cages.

“From my perspective the main reason to fight against it is that it will contribute so very little to Queens,” Clarke wrote. “Maybe a handful of jobs but no taxes municipally nor provincially … It’s not worth jeopardizing the health of our bay’s ecology for so few jobs. It’s not worth threatening the viability of our lobster fishery for so little.”

Another former mayor, John Leefe, commented on Clarke’s post.

“As I have previously noted, there is no economic benefit to Queens,” Leefe wrote. “Cooke pays no municipal taxes,” he said, and with expansion “employment would be modest in pay and numbers.”

In his comments on Clarke’s post, Leefe noted the provincial aquaculture licensing process “provides a legal framework within which proponents and opponents can argue the merits of their cases.” However, in a subsequent message to the Queens Observer, he said his personal view is that the expansion “should not be approved.”

Cooke Aquaculture told Region of Queens council last month the current Liverpool salmon farm provides 10 local jobs. The company has declined to say whether more local jobs will be created if expansion goes through.

NOTE: This story was updated to include John Leefe’s comments to the Queens Observer.