Nova Scotia

McNeil plea for peace triggers protest in Pictou County

Fishermen in Pictou County sent a message to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil Friday morning.

'We haven't done anything really unlawful,' says lobster fisherman

Fishing boats gathered to block survey boats hired by Northern Pulp on Friday. (Submitted)

Fishermen in Pictou County sent a message to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil Friday morning.

Dozens took to the water after McNeil suggested they end a blockade of a survey boat hired to find an undersea route for a pulp mill effluent pipe.

"Premier McNeil's comments kind of struck a nerve with the fleet," said Caribou fisherman Darryl Bowen, who took part in the sunrise demonstration.

"There was probably 40 boats showed up in Pictou Harbour to send a message. We're not backing down and that's that."

Northern Pulp wants to release treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait after its current wastewater treatment system at Boat Harbour closes in 2020.

A map, showing the outfall of the proposed undersea effluent pipeline, which fishermen say they were provided by the owner of Northern Pulp during a meeting at the end of October. (Submitted)

This week, fishermen have headed off the vessel hired to find a route.

"When you have people out there trying to do lawful business that people are preventing them from doing it, its always a concern," McNeil said Thursday.

Lobster fisherman Ben Anderson, who fishes in nearby Pugwash, makes no apologies.

"We haven't done anything really unlawful," said Anderson, who called the action a peaceful demonstration.

Fishermen said they are watching the harbour around the clock for any move by the survey boat.

There is no intention to call off any blockade.

"We told them last year there's going to be no pipe in the Strait and we're not backing down," Bowen said. "We have to protect our industry at all costs. We are prepared to do that."

Fishermen say the survey boat has stayed off the water in recent days.

A spokesperson for Paper Excellence Canada, the owner of Northern Pulp, said in a statement to CBC News that safety is paramount.

"When situations occur, we will seek guidance and work with authorities to ensure the safety of all involved," Kathy Cloutier said.

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.