PICTOU — Anticipation is mounting for a ‘No Pipe’ rally set for Friday in Pictou.
What is being billed as a rally by sea and a rally by land will be followed by the land and sea rally from noon to 2 p.m. along Pictou Harbour and waterfront.
The land component is a march from the Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition grounds to the waterfront that will last less than 10 minutes and coincide with a flotilla of several hundred lobster boats and other craft entering Pictou Harbour starting at 12:30 p.m.
The rally is designed to galvanize opposition to Northern Pulp’s intention to apply to the province to replace the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility with an on-site one with a pipe to discharge the treated effluent directly into the Northumberland Strait at the mouth of Pictou Harbour.
The slogans from opposing groups have raised tensions since the pipe proposal was presented. Literature issued by Northern Pulp says “No Pipe Equals No Mill”.
Numerous groups have backed the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association and the Friends of the Northumberland Strait in their opposition to the pipe option. Their goal is “No Pipe in Our Strait.”
The groups include Pictou Landing First Nation, The Gulf of Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, Clean the Mill, Pictou Lobster Carnival, Ecology Action Centre, Healthy Forest Coalition, the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club of Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, Nature Nova Scotia and Sustainable Northern Nova Scotia.
The clarion call stems from pipe opponents’ fears that the effluent will harm the fishery and spawning grounds for species that include lobster, crab, scallop, herring and mackerel. The groups are also saying approving will continue the litany of broken promises by successive provincial governments since the pulp mill was conceived and opened and effluent from it began polluting Boat Harbour and forced the eventual installment of a more adequate treatment system.
The groups have sought a more comprehensive federal environmental assessment than what the province has offered.
Allan MacCarthy of Caribou Island, who has fished for 39 years, and Krista Fulton, whose husband has fished for 23 years, are among those organizing the rally. They have been planning it since December.
Fulton and Nicole MacKenzie, whose husband also fishes commercially, will emcee the rally.
“It was just an abstract idea then,” MacCarthy said. “Now, I’d be surprised if there are not 300 boats there, 70 from Caribou Harbour alone.”
The rally has received widening support from social media and other sources.
“It’s been getting out,” Fulton said. “We hope to get support from the fishing industry. We’re trying to send a message to Northern Pulp, but we’re also trying to send a message to the federal government. They told us 50 years ago that it was going to be fine and now they’re telling us the same thing – ‘trust us,’ – and we don’t trust them. It’s about protecting the future for our children.”
MacCarthy and Fulton said the province’s conflict of interest in the new pipe’s assessment process is sufficient reason for federal intervention. They say the fishery’s economic impact far exceeds that of Northern Pulp and the exports and ancillary employment it generates.
“The crab and lobster fishery has a $2-billion export value,” Fulton said. “The pipe would put at risk the lives of 3,000 fishermen from three provinces, First Nations commercial and food fishery, $20 million in Northumberland tourism and $65 million from sport fishing.”
Among speakers will be chiefs from the Pictou Landing and other First Nation communities in the Maritimes.
NFA president Ron Heighton will also address the rally, while Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan will open the event with a welcome on behalf of the town.
Allan MacCarthy and Krista Fulton are among organizers of the #NOPIPE Land and Sea rally set for Friday. (Goodwin photo)