Survey of Fishers and Mossers in Port Mouton Bay

A survey of lobster fishers and moss harvesters was completed in January 2007. The objective was to gather evidence, from those with first-hand knowledge, on the economic (and other) impacts of the existing fish farm (site 0835), and the potential impact of the proposed new fish farm (site 1251).

The lobster fleet consists of 40 boats operating from Central Port Mouton wharf and Hunt's Point wharf. As well, moss harvesters (mossers) operating out of Port Mouton Bay were surveyed.

Survey Methodology

Each skipper and mosser was asked to respond to three questions, and sign their completed paper survey (PDF version). Responses: 39 of 40 skippers, 12 of 15 mossers completed and signed the surveys for a total of 51 respondents. Results are shown below:

Survey of Lobster Fishers and Mossers : Responses
Question and Responses
1. Loss of Resources near Spectacle Island Site 0835:

Resource loss and number of respondents reporting the loss:
  • lobster: 32
  • scallops: 18
  • clams: 18
  • bait fish: 14
  • Irish moss: 21
  • whelk: 5
  • mussels: 25
Please describe any other changes observed:
  • Marine plant life 80% gone around Spectacle Island
  • Irish moss dieback and contamination throughout inner harbour
  • Green algae scum on Spectacle Island shore and on seabed in harbour within 1 square mile of Site 0835
  • Slime on buoys and lines set in harbour
  • Sludge on beaches
  • Sewage odour on mud flats
  • Disgusting smell from farm
  • Mutated clams
  • "Dead zone" in inner harbour
  • Risk of contamination in all shellfish
2. Economic Impacts of Spectacle Island Site 0835:

Economic impacts, and number of respondents reporting the impact:
  • fouled or contaminated gear: 12
  • gear loss due to entanglement: 4
  • increased bait cost due to scarcity: 15
  • increased fuel cost and gear losses due to displacement from inner harbour: 18
Please describe any other changes observed:
  • Loss of sheltered catch area for winter fishing
  • Increased distances cost more time as well as more fuel
  • Cost of investing in bigger boats since the decline of inner harbour fishing
3. Traditional Uses of Proposed Port Mouton Island Site 1251:

Use of proposed site and number of respondents reporting the use:
  • lobster catch: 32
  • bait fishery: 27
  • safe passage: 26
  • gear drop area (safe haven): 32
  • whelk holding: 4
  • mackerel fishing: 26
  • scalloping: 11
  • moss harvest: 20
How will the loss of this area impact your business?
  • Loss of safe haven means more gear losses ($100 per trap)
  • Smaller boats need sheltered fishing area; increased pressure to upgrade to larger more expensive boats to fish further offshore
  • Competition with other communities if Port Mouton and Hunt's Point vessels go further from home ports
  • Loss of opportunities to earn a living in home community
  • Sole occupation threatened
  • Restriction of fishing to fair weather days if going further offshore
Other comments from respondents
Comments received:
  • Area of proposed Site 1251 is a lobster molting habitat
  • Fish farm pollution is killing the vegetation that lobsters eat
  • The fish plant requires clean salt water. Pollution could shut it down
  • Flushing of clams and holding of shellfish also require clean water
  • Problems are already seen from the existing fish farm site
  • Camping on Port Mouton Island, diving, and tourism will be negatively affected
  • Property values will decline
  • Fish farms are eyesores
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