Included in a one pager that was issued a short time ago were three points that the NDP government considered significant for consideration. Noticeably absent from that list was reference to anything positive that had been accomplished in the Departments of Fisheries/Aquaculture and Environment.
With an election looming there are several issues that need to be considered. Just recently the announcement of a $500,000 loan for Blue Wave Seafoods in Port Mouton is good news for them.
But consider that this loan is just two percent, TWO percent, of the $25 million loan/grant combo that has been promised to Cooke Aquaculture to expand operations in Jordan Bay, a proposed future processing plant in Shelburne, and expanded food production in Truro. Considering the pollution, disease, damaging and in some cases illegal chemicals, shoreline fouling, damage to other fisheries including wild salmon populations, it seems incredulous that such decisions can take place with the blessing of the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Environment. This is your dollars, allocated without your approval, to help a profitable New Brunswick company ruin your environment.
It was known long before the large fish farms in Jordan Bay came into being that the Bay was too shallow to sustain these large farms without environmental damage. This evidence was dismissed by the Department of Fisheries/Aquaculture and the Department of the Environment, conveniently led by one and the same Minister. Suppose there had been a dedicated Minister of Fisheries and a separate dedicated Minister of the Environment with the full support of the Premier. The expansion strategy for fish farms, the outlandish promise to Cooke aquaculture and the large feedlots in Jordan Bay would not likely have become a reality.
The federal Government is not without some blame for the continued operation of fish farms that pollute and spread disease. Cooke would never have been able to market 240,000 sick fish from the Coffin's Island site without the approval of the CFIA, claiming that the virus is "not harmful to humans". This decision came about because the government refused to compensate Cooke for their loss. Strangely, no other farm in the Atlantic Provinces has since been allowed to market ISA infected fish. If consumers were aware that these fish would have died from the disease not long after they were slaughtered, would they have lost their appetites? Quite likely, but Cooke were not required to distinguish them from other production.
Aquaculture in the vision that it was intended can and should continue to be a good thing. Witness Sustainable Blue in the Annapolis Valley, very successful in Arctic Char growth and production and now soon to be marketing Atlantic Salmon. Did they get a big handout from the government, especially considering their environmental responsibility? Certainly not. Makes one wonder why Cooke aquaculture, a profitable New Brunswick Company, would be held in such favour by the government.