community news

Fishing coalition seeking position from federal election candidates

Community Featured

Members of a coalition of Maritime fishing associations representing the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board, Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association, Maritime Fishermen’s Union and the Pictou Landing First Nation, will be seeking the position of all local federal election candidates on the proposed effluent pipeline that would discharge into the Northumberland Strait from Northern Pulp.

This area falls under the Canadian Fisheries Act and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). “The multiple fishery resources of the Northumberland Strait and Gulf of St. Lawrence support the livelihoods of our fellow harvesters, both commercial and First Nations, and serve as the lifeblood of our local coastal communities,” says Ian MacPherson, PEIFA.

MacPherson argued about recent comments from the union representing plant workers. “They said, ‘The Province must proceed, the water treatment plant will resolve the pollution problem and the alternative is an industry that may never fully recover in Nova Scotia.’ This statement is patently misleading. We are deeply concerned that the proposed treatment of the effluent will not keep harmful pollutants out of the Northumberland Strait. There has been little consultation with our First Nation communities or our three Maritime fishing organizations about our marine ecosystem concerns and livelihoods.”

The responsible position, he says, is to support a land-based treatment facility that would protect both the fishery and forestry sectors.

“The group fully supports the closure of the current Boat Harbour treatment facility in January 2020. The lack of suitable options that will meet this timeframe is not the responsibility or fault of the four organizations representing their fishing community. We expect nothing less than support for a full Federal Environmental Assessment and a land-based solution in hopes of mitigating a potential environmental marine disaster.”

Exploration of effluent treatment options that allow the mill and fishery to co-exist in a sustainable manner for the future, preserving jobs in both the fishing and forestry sectors is a preferred outcome but not at the expense of the fishery in this region. “We are not interested in tearing communities apart but rather maintaining viable and profitable communities in every sector.”

The group’s focus continues to be the right to earn a living in a clear, clean sustainable marine environment.