A delegation of fishermen from Pictou County gathered outside the Halifax Convention Centre on Friday to let Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Keith Colwell know that Northern Pulp’s proposal to discharge pulp effluent into the Northumberland Strait does not fit with the Nova Scotia Pure branding he is promoting.
“We cannot see how the government can promote the Nova Scotia Pure brand and at the same time seriously consider letting Northern Pulp dump 70 million litres of effluent daily into a prime fishing area. How does the Minister think Nova Scotia seafood will be looked at in other countries if this proposal is allowed to go ahead,” says lobster fisherman Allan MacCarthy.
The minister’s annual industry conference was held Friday in Halifax. The conference theme was sustainably growing Nova Scotia’s fish and seafood industry.
“PEI politicians from all parties have spoken out that this plan is high risk for fisheries – why aren’t our politicians equally concerned?” asks Nicole MacKenzie, from Friends of the Northumberland Strait. “Why hasn’t the fisheries minister even talked to the fishermen? Who knows these waters best? Who is the minister listening to?”
Minister Colwell came outside to speak to the delegation Friday and thanked them for coming to draw more attention to the issue. Fishermen attending asked for his support. The minister of Fisheries and Agriculture has made no public comment on the issue to date.
Mackenzie is married to fisherman Ryan Fleury, and knows first hand that fishermen have invested their money and time to make changes in how they fish in order to protect the environment. “Fishermen can’t be the only ones prepared to invest in change,” she says.
“There has been a commercial fishery in the Northumberland Strait for 150 years, and a First Nations food fishery for much longer,” says MacKenzie. “We want our fishery to be around far into the future. We want our daughter to be able to be a captain someday. That’s what sustainable means.”
Fishermen have repeatedly stated that Northern Pulp’s proposed new treatment plan is unacceptable and puts the fisheries at risk. Fishermen’s organizations throughout Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick are united around a call for “No Pipe in the Strait.” The groups are also united in support of the closure and clean up of Boat Harbour on schedule.
MacCarthy and MacKenzie both say they do not want mill workers to lose their jobs, but they are not prepared to see the fishing industry put at risk.