P.E.I. fishermen exploring compensation if damage done to fisheries

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association is exploring ways to be compensated if damage is done to local fisheries.

Discussions stem from concerns over the Northern Pulp pipe plan

The Northern Pulp plant in Abercrombie, N.S. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association is exploring ways members could be compensated if damage is done to local fisheries.

The topic was on the agenda for the association's annual general meeting Saturday.

The group has been working with law students at the University of New Brunswick to research different compensation packages in the event of environmental damage. 

Bobby Jenkins, the association's president, said the research stemmed from last year's meeting. Many members are concerned about Northern Pulp's plan to empty treated waste water into the Northumberland Strait.

Association wants 'all aspects' covered

PEIFA is one of several groups against the project. The pipe would discharge about 70 million litres of treated effluent a day into a vital fishing area.

If the project gets approved, Jenkins said they want to be prepared.

"Our fishers are concerned," he said. "If the pipe is going into the strait they want all aspects of that covered."

'Fishermen don't want a compensation package'

Charlie McGeoghegan, a fisherman from Point Prim and the chair of P.E.I.'s lobster marketing board, said he's hoping to see a compensation package worth billions of dollars.

"We want the compensation plan to be so big that both the company and the provincial government and the federal government will say, 'We can't mess this up because we can't be on the hook for this kind of money.'" 

Charlie McGeoghegan says he wants compensation packages to be worth billions if the Northern Pulp pipe plan is approved. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

But McGeoghegan said that it's frustrating to have to be discussing compensation packages at all.

"Fishermen don't want a compensation package plan," he said. "They don't want the pipe in the strait. They just want to make a living and be the stewards of the sea that they are."

The association said it's too early to say what kind of compensation package it would like to see should it come to that.

Several members from the association will go to Ottawa this week to speak to politicians about the project.

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