Cooke hosting open houses for expansion of three NS net-pen sites, July 20-22
We are calling on all Healthy Bays Network member groups and concerned citizens to join us at three open houses consulting on expansion, to let the industry know that salmon farming is not welcome in our bays.
Open net-pens at Saddle Island on the Aspotogan Peninsula. (Simon Ryder-Burbidge.)
Cooke Aquaculture recently posted a series of open houses to consult the public on the proposed expansion of existing open net-pen salmon farming sites at Brier Island (#0742), Port Wade in the Annapolis Basin (#1040), and Saddle Island in St. Margaret's Bay (#1006). We are encouraging nearby groups and individuals to attend these open house dates and ensure our views are represented, as Cooke is mandated to record and publish consultative interactions with members of the public as part of their obligation to Provincial decision-makers.
The open houses will take place in the communities of Westport, Port Royal, and Blandford, from July 20-22, running from 1-8pm each day. Full logistical details below:
Brier Island (Licence #0742) Boundary Amendment Westport Community Hall (Oddfellow’s Hall) Brier Island July 20, 2021 1 PM – 8 PM
Saddle Island (Licence #1006) Boundary Amendment Blandford Community Centre 30 Fire Hall Road Blandford NS July 21, 2021 1 PM – 8 PM
Victoria Beach (Licence #1040) Boundary Amendment & Expansion Lower Granville Hall 3551 Granville Rd, Port Royal July 22, 2021 1 PM – 8 PM
These open houses are a regulatory requirement that Cooke must satisfy before they can legally expand the the footprint of these sites. But, unlike a routine expansion consultation, the catch is that Cooke has already been operating in the expanded territory for which they are now applying at these locations for at least five years. The Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NSDFA), overseeing aquaculture regulations in the province, was alerted to Cooke's expanded footprint years ago, and has allowed operations up to four times the size of the legally allotted lease areas to continue unencumbered. Below, 2019-2020 satellite images show cages, anchor lines and marker buoys spilling out over lease area boundaries (marked by white lines) at each Cooke site.
Above: A 2019 satellite image of the lease area at site 0742 off Brier Island, showing pens and marker buoys outside of the legal boundaries. (Google Earth.)
Above: A 2019 satellite image of the lease area at site 1006 off Saddle Island, showing pens and marker buoys outside of the legal boundaries. (Google Earth.)
Above: A 2020 satellite image of the lease area at site 1040 in the Annapolis Basin showing pens and marker buoys outside of the legal boundaries. (Google Earth.)
So, how did we get here? Well, in 2016, in response to community concerns over the expanded footprint at these sites, the NSDFA notified Cooke that they would have to come into compliance (i.e., reduce the footprint of their operation to the legally allotted leasing area), or go through the newly formed Aquaculture Review Board (ARB) process to formally claim that expanded territory. Now, after five years of inaction on the part of government regulators, Cooke is finally preparing for ARB hearings which must take place to decide whether a formal expansion at each of these three sites should be allowed.
We are calling on all Healthy Bays Network members, member groups and allies to attend these open houses. HBN will have a booth set up in Blandford, near the community hall, on July 21 for the duration of the open house, where we will answer an questions from members of the public. We can also provide support at other locations if there are groups or individuals similarly interested in setting up a booth adjacent to Cooke's events. Please contact Brian Muldoon at email@example.com with any questions or concerns. We want to hear from you and support you on this!
Sincerely, the HBN team.