Nova Scotia

Mink farmers face stronger environmental rules

The Nova Scotia government has released draft regulations that will take aim at strengthening environmental rules for mink farming.

The Nova Scotia government released draft regulations this week that will take aim at strengthening environmental rules for mink farming.

Many people are blaming mink farms for the Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms on lakes in Yarmouth County. (Allister d'Entremont )
Mink farming is a contentious issue in Yarmouth County where residents say run-off from mink farms is polluting lakes in the area.

Many residents of Yarmouth County have been asking for years for stronger regulations surrounding fur farming, in particular mink ranches.

"We're happy to see regulations, it's been a long time coming.  You know something is better than nothing, but we'd certainly like to see them much stronger than they are,"' said Debbie Boudreau, who represents the Tri-County Watershed Association.

A Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board report released last year revealed run-off from mink farms into waterways caused an increase in pollution.

Now the province is setting up meetings this week to hear from residents and mink breeders to discuss the draft regulations.

The focus of the regulations is on areas of storage and disposal of manure, waste feed and carcasses.

But a three-year grandfather clause is being recommended to allow existing farms more time to comply with the new regulations.

"Our concern is that three more years of pollution can possibly put some of these lakes in to the point of where they are beyond recovery," Boudreau said.

Mink farming is the biggest agricultural industry in Nova Scotia. (CBC)
The Nova Scotia mink industry generated roughly $80 million in export sales in 2009.

About 85 per cent of provincial production occurs in Digby and Yarmouth Counties.

Boudreau expects there will be a big turnout at the two public meetings on Tuesday.

Mink breeders will meet with the government on Wednesday.