Liberal Fisheries Bill a Total Betrayal


READERíS CORNER: Liberal fisheries bill a total betrayal
Published April 28, 2015 - 5:25pm

Changes to the Fisheries Act that the Liberals are trying to push through will be devastating for coastal communities and do not resemble at all the recommendations of an exhaustive panel study conducted by Doelle-Lahey.

This study was supported by communities, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators and conservationists around the province. The report, which supposedly was even supported by the marine-based finfish industry, acknowledged the many concerns of all the stakeholders and called for a complete overhaul of the regulatory system and a change of attitude in government, whereby community concerns would be heard throughout the regulatory process.

The report also acknowledged that no trust would ever be built between communities and the industry/government, which have acted as one, unless the voice of Nova Scotians was heard.

Communities are again blocked out by this bill. The government is still promoting the industry with complete lack of regard for its regulatory role and the health of coastal communities. The minister has called on leaseholders of over 160 dormant sites to again make application without meaningful review and public participation. Many of these sites are not operating, as they are failed experiments.

Cooke Aquaculture is preparing to restock a site at Jordan Bay that just suffered a massive fish kill. Meanwhile, communities are living with dead and diseased fish on their shores, displaced lobster fishers, dead zones in their harbours that do not recover, equipment debris tangled in lobster traps and polluted harbours.

To add insult to injury, the bill is proposing that the public has no right to know about fish health from the provincial government because it believes this would be a breach of business confidentiality rights. We do have the right to know how an industry affects the health of our communities, our water and the food we eat.

You cannot grow healthy food in polluted harbours. And we cannot sustain a healthy lobster and tourism industry when our harbours are used as dumping grounds. It took years and much suffering before the government decided to clean up Boat Harbour and the Sydney tar ponds. Do we have to wait until our harbours are dead before you hear our voices?

Wendy Watson Smith is president, Association for the Preservation of the Eastern Shore