McNeil pressured to tighten aquaculture rules

Hundreds of people from across Nova Scotia converged at Halifax hotel Thursday to demand the McNeil government tighten the rules surrounding aquaculture.

Government promises review results in April

The report also says there is a place for fish farms in Nova Scotia and that the competing interests can be balanced. (CBC)

Hundreds of people from across Nova Scotia converged at Halifax hotel Thursday to demand the McNeil government tighten the rules surrounding aquaculture.

Stewart Lamont, a lobster processor at Tanger Lobster, was one of the speakers.

"The status quo is a wild west show in Nova Scotia in terms of what can be done in open net pen farms," he said.  

In total, 33 groups called on the province to implement recommendations of an expert panel, which called for a complete overhaul of aquaculture regulations.

The Doelle Lahey report released last month said government has to do a better job incorporating community concerns when salmon farms are considered.

They say a total overhaul of the regulations surrounding aquaculture development is needed to restore the industries credibility in coastal Nova Scotia.

The report validates claims government isn’t listening to local concerns about fish farms. 

There is a lot of mistrust and rightly so, given the way it was.- Keith Colwell

“They were not listening to us as people, as communities, they were not listening to us as knowledgeable experts,” said Gloria Gilbert of Coastal Community Advocates.

“There is a lot of mistrust and rightly so given the way it was,” said Keith Colwell, the minister of fisheries and aquaculture.

He said a review is underway and promised the results in April. But he wouldn’t sign off on one of the report’s key recommendations: the creation of a red, yellow or green zone for development.

He did say some areas will be off limits.

“I’m sure when we are done the general public will be very happy with what we’re doing, as well as the industry,” Colwell said.

The report also says there is a place for fish farms in Nova Scotia and that the competing interests can be balanced.

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