Brown Foam and Oily Scum Blanket Summerville Beach

October 31, 2012 Recent

For Immediate Release

Marine Ecology and Tourism Threatened At Queens County Provincial Park

Port Mouton, Nova Scotia, Canada – A noxious, brownish foam and oily scum appeared on the beach at Summerville Provincial Park in August. The Friends of Port Mouton Bay (FPMB) have been monitoring the situation as the material continues to accumulate, depending on the wind direction over the finfish farm in Port Mouton Bay and the rising tide.

Spectacle Island and the adjacent open pen finfish farm (presently holding thousands of trout) lie opposite Carter’s Beach and close to Summerville Beach. People on shore can see a very large oily slick emanating from the fish farm and travelling over kilometre scale distances in the down-wind direction.

In late June 2012 the Friends of Port Mouton Bay tested the oily slick. It was found to contain levels of copper that are double the guidelines set for the protection of marine life. Since then, the slick has become even more pronounced than slicks observed during the previous salmon farming operation located off Spectacle Island.

Oily Slick Emanating from Spectacle Island Fish Farm

Oily slick emanating from fish farm and drifting towrds Summerville Beach, NS Sep 11, 2012

Oil slick visible to the left of the fish farm (on upper right corner); moving towards Summerville Beach. Date: Sept 11, 2012 (Photo by Ricky Broome)

The Federal Government has designated Carter’s Beach as an Anchorage area. Yachtsmen have complained strongly about a foul rotten eggs odour near the fish farm when salmon were in the cages. Now, with trout in the pens, there is an even stronger rancid fishy smell, which, when the wind blows in that direction, drifts in towards the beach and residential neighbourhood.

Is our reputation as a tourist haven with ‘pristine’ waters and beautiful beaches being damaged? If it isn’t already, it will be.

Brown Foam Washing ashore on Summerville Beach

Summerville Beach - brown foam washing onshore Aug 13, 2012

Brown foam on Summerville Beach, extending along the shoreline for about 1 km. Date: Aug 13, 2012 (Photo by Ruth Smith)

Summerville Beach - closeup of brown foam washing onshore Aug 13, 2012

Closeup view of brown foam seen on Summerville Beach. Date: Aug 13, 2012 (Photo by Ruth Smith)

What is causing these problems in Port Mouton Bay?

In the journal ”Aquaculture” G.Baeverfjord, et al, wrote in 2006 that “regurgitation” (belching) of oil is a problem in sea farmed trout kept in water with fluctuating salinity.” (

The presence of farmed trout which have died and not yet been removed by divers and the accumulation of uneaten feed pellets disintegrating in seawater may have contributed to the problem.

Judith Cabrita, former executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of NS, has said, “Our sustainable, natural product is a huge part of our tourism product. We have to protect what we have.” (Halifax Herald, March 13, 2012)

In the same article, tourism association president Darlene Grant Fiander commented, “A healthy natural environment is one of the principal star attractions for tourism.”

Dr. Ron Loucks, oceanographer for the FPMB, sums it up. “Throughout our six-year experience of studying aquaculture in Port Mouton Bay, we’ve noted a long list of side-effects. Now that there is a trout farm in the bay, replacing the former salmon farm, there are new side effects.”

“The aquaculture industry appears to be interested only in the side-effects that affect them,” Loucks adds. “Damage to the ecosystem or to the tourism industry is left for the community to cope with.”

A damaged ecosystem is a threat to Nova Scotia’s $1.8 billion tourism industry. It is a threat to our health, our environment, our economy. When will the Government listen?

Floating Waste from Fish Farm - August and October 2012

Local residents capture pictures of fish farm waste deposited on Summerville Beach, in August and October of 2012.


Beach users stroll as scum flows by Summerville Beach and up the Broad River, NS. Date: Aug 18, 2012 (Photo by Jan Pottie)


More foam covering large stretches of Summerville Beach in October. Date: Oct 16, 2012 (Photo by Jan Pottie)


Closeup shot of foam covering sand on Summerville Beach. Date: Oct 16, 2012 (Photo by Jan Pottie)

Brown flaoting waste from Fish Farm Aug 5, 2012

Pictures taken from kayak directly next to fish farm off Spectacle Island Date: Aug 5, 2012 (Photo by Robert Ross)

Another photo of brown flaoting waste from Fish Farm Aug 5, 2012

Another picture taken from kayak directly next to fish farm off Spectacle Island Date: Aug 5, 2012 (Photo by Robert Ross)

Floating waste clearly coming from fish farm Oct 5, 2012

Floating waste quite clearly coming from fish farm site. Date: Oct 5, 2012 (Photo by Brian Paul Fisher)

Closer view of flaoting waste stream fro fish farm Oct 5, 2012

Closeup view of floating waste. Date: Oct 5, 2012 (Photo by Brian Paul Fisher)

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