Fish farms not suitable everywhere says biologist after Shelburne study

Greg Bennett
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Inka Milewski will return to Shelburne for another talk on her studies about the effects of salmon farming on the harbour bottom.

File photo 

Not every bay, harbour, or inlet along Nova Scotia's coast is suitable for open net pen fish farming. That message is one of the conclusions of a multi-year study examining the recovery of the sea bottom in Shelburne Harbour during the months and years after the fish cages have been removed. The conclusions of the study will be presented by marine biologist Inka Milewski at Shelburne Regional High School on Tuesday, July 15 at 7 p.m.

Milewski, a marine biologist and science advisor for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, has been studying the sea bottom at a former fish farm in Shelburne Harbour for more than two years.

She says that long after the last salmon were harvested at the former Sandy Point farm site in Shelburne Harbour, the sea bottom remains toxic and marine life has not recovered.

Her study found that 50 to 90 percent of the sea bottom under and around the former fish farm remains covered in white sulfur-tolerant bacterial mats and sediment copper and zinc levels are still at toxic levels. Copper and zinc are additives in fish feed and are used in anti-fouling products found in marine paint and coatings for nets and rope.

Sediment sulphide levels, the only measure the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture uses to evaluate environmental health, are also still above acceptable limits. 

Milewski said that her study shows that the location of fish farms matters and she hopes that the recommendations from the independent panel reviewing aquaculture regulations in Nova Scotia will address the need for better site selection criteria and process.

Milewski said that a more robust site selection process would avoid putting open net pen farms where there is a greater likelihood of environment damage, traditional fisheries displacement, and community dissatisfaction.

She will be in Shelburne to make a presentation on the results of her study on July 15, at the Shelburne Regional High School. The presentation will begin at 7 pm and is free to the public.


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Recent comments

  • The Cove Man
    July 11, 2014 - 09:48

    Come to the Coast of Bays in NL and take a look at the ocean bottom in some of these areas. Also we have a pond (Lake for mainlanders) here that has had fish cages in it for many years and have not been moved at all. This once clean pond is now contaminated and people cannot fish there anymore without having to endure the mess left by the company. Yet the NAIA, Miranda Prior says we are all liars and this Aquaculture Industry does not affect anything at all in a negative way. Yet lobsters had to be destroyed this year and were paid for by one of the aquaculture companies to cover up the disaster. We have people taking in the recreational cod fishery and the cod is full of feed and this feed is medicated and the salmon must be off this feed for over 100 days before it is fit for human consumption. Yet we are told that eating the cod with feed in their bellies from a few days ago is ok. People are disgusted with Prior and her false statements but hopefully she will be made accountable with more studies like this. Can. Food Inspection agency knows how dangerous this is but won't take calls here on this serious issue, DFO won't take our complaints serious and does not respond to calls and Transport Canada does nothing about the debris around. Gray's Aqua have just started here again a few weeks ago and already boaters have struck unmarked debris and lines and have required divers to get this debris removed. When they went bankrupt last year, rather than clean the debris crews were sent out to sink this mess as it is cheaper. When people's sickness gets connected to this industry for eating the high levels of chemicals in the wild fish, I hope Prior will be around to explain tour children and hers, how this could have been prevented and apologize for what is eventually going to happen. This feed spill that gets into the wild stocks must stop as we have studies showing that the chemicals used are cancer causing and this is why the CFIA has the 100 plus days for salmon to be off this feed to ensure the chemical levels get low enough for our safety. This is not so with the cod and lobsters etc;. It is time for Prior to show some respect to the people of this coast, and to stop this foolishness that she gets on with and risk our health and the depletion of the wild stocks just so that she can collect a pay cheque. There is more to this than money.