Northern Pulp taking legal action to stop survey boat blockades

Paper Excellent Canada says it has initiated legal action as a response to fishermen in the Northumberland Strait blocking the survey boats as a protest. The company said it had no choice.

Some Northumberland Strait fishermen have been blocking survey boats over effluent pipe proposal

Paper Excellent Canada says it had no choice but to pursue legal action. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Northern Pulp is taking legal action to put an end to blockades that have prevented survey boats from doing work for a proposed effluent pipe in the Northumberland Strait.

On Wednesday, Paper Excellent Canada announced it has initiated legal action as a response to fishermen in the Northumberland Strait blocking the survey boats as a protest. The company said it had no choice.

"Clearly our hope was that the surveying would be allowed to occur without incident or obstruction," said Kathy Cloutier, director of corporate communications for Paper Excellence Canada.

"However actions indicated that the environmental assessment survey work would not proceed without the company seeking a court injunction."

Cloutier said the company supports people's rights for free expression, but said the blockades have moved into "an unsafe realm in terms of obstruction and/or threats."

"Then it became necessary — unfortunately — to look at avenues such as court injunctions. These are skilled professionals who have been contracted to perform a function and should be allowed to do so," Cloutier said.

Cloutier said the court documents have been filed and said a court date is scheduled for Dec. 18.

In the meantime, Cloutier said survey boats will remain docked until the process is completed.

Darryl Bowen, a fisherman from Caribou, N.S., doesn't think an injunction will stop blockades.

"There's a lot of fishermen on this shore and unless it's an injunction against every fisherman in the Northumberland Strait, there will be somebody there blocking them if they come back," Bowen said.

With files from Paul Withers and Jean Laroche