Sherman d’Entremont, spokesperson for Ocean Trout Farms Inc., said he wasn’t aware the Friends were making the request to council on Feb. 20.
The deal between Cooke’s Aquaculture and Ocean Trout Farms, which is a trade of a couple of their existing sites, is not yet completed. He says however no matter when the transfer is complete they will honour an agreement with the Friends to not stock the site until the Fall of this year.
The company has met with the friends once before, in Sept. 2011, and is aware of their efforts. He hasn’t reviewed their findings, but says the company will read what’s provided.
“We want to work with them, and we will respect the environment when we restock the farm,” he says. “It’s unfortunate the friends are taking a hard line approach”
There is a difference between the type of fish being grown by his company, says d’Entremont.
“Trout and salmon are different. Trout has a shorter growth cycle, so there will be more fallowing on that sight.”
Salmon’s lifecycle is around 18 months from stocking the site to harvest. Trout is grown in eight to 12 months. Sites are also fallowed or rested for six to 10 months before restocking.
“It’s important to note that Cooke Aquaculture or Ocean Trout never fished that site. The impacts created by the previous operation wasn’t either company,” he says.
Cooke Aquaculture took over the site in 2009 from Aqua Fish Farms Ltd. and harvested the salmon there shortly afterwards. The site has been empty since the last harvesting.
“We do care about the environment and we do care about the communities we go into,” says d’Entremont, adding they want to maintain an open dialogue with the friends and the community.
If they receive and invitation from the Region of Queens to speak, they would come down he says.
The Friends of Port Mouton Bay have put forward a motion they hope will end the long battle to keep Aquaculture fish farms out of Port Mouton Bay. They want the province to permanently stop fish farms in the bay.
In order to halt any aquaculture in the bay, both existing and in the future, they are asking the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sterling Belliveau to declare the bay unsuitable for that purpose. The group was in council on Feb. 20, asking the Region to support the idea by writing a formal letter to the minister and other political leaders.
The main argument the group has put forward about since its inception is that water does not flush out of the bay. Instead, waste from the operation settles on the bottom of the basin and accumulates over time.
Since then, they’re results copper in the microlayer of the water, a one millimetre deep layer on the top of the ocean between the air and the water. The microlayer is important because it is a nutrient rich layer used by some sea life. In particular, lobster larvae rise to the surface and use the layer until they are ready to descend again. The friends have found copper beyond the tolerance levels for the larvae. Copper is used in the netting of aquaculture sites and in the feed for the fish.
One point that was brought up again and again during the meeting was the group is not against aquaculture as an industry. What they are saying is Port Mouton Bay is unsuitable for aquaculture development.
“We recognize the value of fish farming. Fish farming could take the pressure of wild stock,” said presenter Peter Muttart.
He added they would prefer to see it done inland or deep waters, because of the inherent problems it causes.
An example of what those problems might be happened in Shelburne County on Feb. 17. Two out of three cages of salmon in Shelburne Harbour had to be culled because of a suspected outbreak of infectious salmon anemia.
Councillors were not making a motion that day, however some expressed their views about their stance on the issue.
Coun. John Croft said he wasn’t for or against it at the moment.
“I don’t know enough information about it to go either way, but certainly your presentation was adequate,” he said
Coun. Sheldon Brannen said he was in favour the request, adding the group has done a lot of work to get to this point.
“The work your group has done has helped hopefully to form better regulations in the province,” but added thought needs to be put into the issue before council makes a motion.
“Before we make a mistake and we put something in that’s irreversible, we need to have the pros and cons. We need to have enough evidence that the people that live in that area are comfortable with it in their backyard,” he said.
Other councillors wanted to hear from the owners of the farm before making a decision.
A motion to support the Friends of Port Mouton Bay will go before Committee of the Whole on March 13.
All the data the group has collected is available on their website at www.friendsofportmoutonbay.ca