<strong>Fish farms not suitable everywhere says biologist after Shelburne study</strong>

Greg Bennett gbennett@thecoastguard.ca
Published on July 10, 2014

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.