Fish farm opponents set to protest again

By Scott Costen

Protect Liverpool Bay is planning a protest at noon tomorrow as it continues to fight the possible expansion of fish farming in the area.

Group member Brian Muldoon says the 30-minute march along downtown sidewalks is intended to raise awareness and generate broader support for its cause. “It seems council thinks there’s only six or seven of us who are concerned about this issue,” he said. “We want to show them there are many more than that.”

Fish farm opponents have been attending and speaking up at Region of Queens Municipality council meetings the last couple of months. Although aquaculture is largely a provincial jurisdiction, Protect Liverpool Bay wants council to register its official opposition to fish farm expansion in Queens County. Mayor David Dagley has repeatedly stated council is undecided on the issue as there are presently no site-specific reports or applications to consider.

A Nov. 26 rally at Fort Point Lighthouse Park drew more than 100 opponents of increased fish farming in South Queens. More than 300 people have signed a petition that will eventually be presented to council, Muldoon said.

Cooke Aquaculture, through its subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon, operates a four-hectare aquaculture site near Coffin Island. The company has obtained provincial approval to explore other parts of Liverpool Bay and apply for expanded fish-farming rights.

Joel Richardson, Cooke’s vice-president of public relations, said the company is still in the information-gathering stage and has not decided whether or not it will make such an application. “We’re still doing the work that we need to do, making sure that we have the appropriate science and the appropriate research done,” he said.

Cooke is aware of tomorrow’s protest, but hasn’t heard from many opponents directly, Richardson said. “A few of them have provided input to us,” he said. “But for the most part, I would say the majority of individuals we have not heard from.”

The company’s online feedback page has received fewer than “half a dozen” messages from Queens County residents, Richardson said. “We’ve encouraged people to provide feedback. That’s been available since we did the open house in Liverpool.” It is unknown how many Queens residents have submitted comments directly to the Nova Scotia Aquaculture Review Board, the government-appointed tribunal that decides on aquaculture applications.

Cpl John Harris, acting commander of Queens District RCMP, said he has spoken to Protect Liverpool Bay. No permits are required for the protest and police don’t anticipate any inconvenience to the general public, he said.

“I have been in touch with organizers of the event and there are no planned road closures or marching on the roadway,” Harris wrote in an email to the Observer. “There will be a short walk along the sidewalks in the downtown area of Liverpool as a group but no closures or disruptions to roadways or traffic.”

The protest is scheduled to begin at noon Dec. 15 at the Liverpool visitor information centre.