MLA Vicki Conrad speaks to the issue in the Nova Scotia Legislature

November 14, 2006

Source: Hansard: Page 1676

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The vocal opposition to the fish farm expansion proposed for Port Mouton Bay continues to grow. The community has formed an organization, has held numerous meetings, and has collected well over 1,800 signatures with the aim of saving Port Mouton. At a recent presentation, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture described aquaculture as a natural fit for the South Shore, but the people who live in and around Port Mouton Bay strongly disagree. My question is, why won't this minister listen to the people and deny the application to expand this operation?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I've had a lot of correspondence from the people in that area in the last while. I have also had some correspondence from people who are in favour of that project. There are 10 different government agencies, provincial and federal, that are reviewing that application, and when all of the review is completed, we will be making a decision at that time.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, after tabling a petition with well over 1,800 names, I have heard very little support for this in my home communities. A 70-acre expansion in Port Mouton Bay will just not work for this community. Port Mouton Bay already has protected beaches, a thriving lobster fishery and this area attracts many tourists each year. If allowed to expand this operation, there is a direct threat to destroy what is already thriving, a centre of activity on the South Shore.

My question is, why won't this minister listen to the larger community and stop this proposed expansion?

[1:30 p.m.]

[Page 1677]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I feel we're doing the right thing, as far as any aquaculture project goes in the province. As I said in my first answer, we have 10 different federal-provincial agencies that assess this application. When that assessment is completed, we will make our decisions and contacting the community as well.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the residents in my communities do not have faith in the review process. The environmental regulations for fish farming are just not convincing enough for members of my community. I attended the presentation your department gave to the Region of Queens, and last evening I attended an open house provided by Aqua Fish Farms. I can tell you that the residents were telling me after that meeting that this still has not convinced them that this is the right thing for Port Mouton.

Tomorrow night the Friends of Port Mouton are holding a public meeting and we will hear from Inka Milewski, Science Advisor for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and to make sure that the minister has listened to and considered all sides of the debate, will he accept my invitation and attend tomorrow night's meeting? The drive is included. (Interruptions)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hope my wife is not watching the proceedings of this debate. Anyway, I will check what I'm doing tomorrow evening and I will let the member know later. I'm not sure I'm available but if I am, I will.