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Salmon farm setting up in St Mary's Bay is rejected by a coalition made up of various groups. (Photo: Stock File/ecojusticce/FIS)

Cooke Aquaculture faces new legal obstacles

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

Cooke Aquaculture is facing further legal action from opponents of its salmon farms in St Mary’s Bay.

A coalition of villages – such as Freeport, Tiverton and Westport -- and environmental and fishing groups including the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has asked Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court to overturn operating licence approvals recently granted by Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau to Cooke subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.

"It is very unfortunate that opponents to our company and to salmon farming are taking this route, especially the ASF, who at the same time are partnering with our company on several important salmon conservation projects and are benefiting from our expertise in fish health and salmon rearing," stated company spokesperson Nell Halse.

The coalition claims Belliveau was not legally authorised to grant the licences and failed to engage in sufficient public consultation and consider the detrimental impact the farms would have on endangered marine species in the area, The Canadian Press reports. 

They argue that the farms would destroy local tourism and traditional fishing industries plus jeopardise endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale and the wild Atlantic salmon.

Cooke’s would be Nova Scotia’s largest fish farm and stock some 2 million fish in lobster-rich fishing waters, reports Times & Transcript.

Cooke’s opponents also asked the court to put Belliveau’s decision on hold until the appeal’s outcome arrives.

Halse noted that the aquaculture company has already filled one of the farms with fish.

"We are proceeding with construction of the second one," she said. "We are also in the process of hiring new staff and should have 16 new employees by the end of the month."

Cooke abided by all necessary procedures to acquire the licences and cooperated fully with government science and environmental assessments and consultation processes, she assured.

Halse added that the firm enjoys copious support in Digby and Shelburne, where it intends to place three more farms and build a processing plant.

"We recently commissioned a poll by Corporate Research Associates Inc and it indicated a high level of support for the further development of the aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia," she said.

The poll found that 27 per cent of Nova Scotians completely supported aquaculture and 46 per cent mostly supported it. Also, that 27 per cent knew that fish farming provides half of the world’s consumable seafood but 58 per cent realised that it brings jobs to rural Nova Scotia, Halse specified.

She pointed out that Cooke has been working in Atlantic Canada for 25 years and was recently awarded certification to an internationally recognised eco-label.

"Our commitment remains to working with the communities so that our investments benefit local people, while protecting the marine environment and existing fisheries," Halse asserted.

Related articles:

- Environmentalists, fishers affront approval of salmon farming sites 
- Nova Scotia controversially approves plans for two salmon farms 

By Natalia Real



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