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Sea bottom still toxic in Shelburne, says marine scientist

Public presentation Tuesday, July 16

One year after salmon were harvested and the lease surrendered, a study has found that the sea bottom under an open net pen fish farm at Sandy Point in Shelburne Harbour is still toxic and marine life still has not recovered. The former fish farm is the site of a multi-year study examining the recovery of the sea bottom.

Inka Milewski, the study’s principal investigator and science advisor for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, will be in Shelburne on Tuesday, July 16 at 7:00pm at Shelburne Regional High to present her most recent findings.

According to Milewski, copper levels in the sediments exceed levels known to have negative effects on marine organisms and are at levels that prevent biological recovery from occurring. “Federal and provincial regulators are under the mistaken assumption that it takes just a few months to a year for the sea bottom to recover from the effects of massive waste loading, said Milewski. “As these results demonstrate, this is simply not true.”

Milewski says that the high levels of copper around fish farms are the result of the anti-foulants used in nets, excretion of more concentrated copper in the fish feces and the accumulation and breakdown of uneaten feed. “The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment have set guidelines for copper levels in marine sediments but there is no enforcement of these guidelines,” said Milewski. According to the study’s results, sediment copper levels around the former fish farm are up to 10 times higher than other areas within inner Shelburne Harbour and up to 40 times higher than areas in outer Shelburne Harbour.

The Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture granted three new leases to Kelly Cove Salmon, a division of Cooke Aquaculture, in the inner Shelburne Harbour area. All new leases are approximately 100 metres from former farm sites that had poor environmental performance records. Stocking of all salmon farm sites in Shelburne Harbour was put on hold because a highly contagious virus ISA (infectious salmon anemia) was found on a farm site in outer Shelburne Harbour in February 2012.

Milewski says she is disturbed and alarmed that the provincial government has granted a license for the massive fish farm next door in Jordan Bay. “Why would federal and provincial regulators allow such a large fish farms to operate in such shallow waters when they know what the experience has been in Shelburne Harbour, also a shallow-water site” she asked. “It will be the local fisherman and taxpayers that will be on the hook when, not if, environmental quality begins to deteriorate.”

The Shelburne presentation is open to the public and there is no admission charge.


Just Someone's picture

Well there you have it,,,, a scientist telling us how a salmon farm creates a dead zone in our local waters. That can't be good for lobsters or our local lobstermen.

What is wrong with our provincial government ?

I thought the provincial government was doing a study to see if salmon could be raised on land in tanks, for a real profit, without all of the unwanted side affects. Where is that study ?


Time for Cooke to live up to their words - a fish processing plant OR move on......we want more than a dirty harbour.


Are you saying pollution is ok if they open a fish plant?? Jobs at all costs!
I hope I misunderstand. A dead zone is still dead whether there is a fish plant or not.


I am saying we should get something for the damage that has been done. I like the idea of raising fish in tanks on land.


But, I may be mistaken, but that is not what Cookes do.
The inland fish industry is also completely unregulated,. I am a big fan of Sustainable blue inland fishing company, but all companies are not the same. Regulations need to catch up to the industry..the mink industry is a perfect example of an industry out of control! Look at the damage they have done.


I was suggesting Cookes should look at growing fish in tanks and quit messing up our harbour.

Just Someone's picture

Cooke's answer would be "We are the experts in the industry, experts in raising fish in tanks, and raising fish in tanks will not work, it would cost too much" That is what they say.

I want to know Where is the provincial study about this? Can it be done or not !!


Do you actually want a study by the NDP. Have we not learned YET????
Are we slow learners or what!!!
They ask for input, you give them in put. They ask for concerns, you give them MANY concerns, backed up by science. They start to look concerned....thank you profusely for telling them your concerns. At this point some citizen stands up and thanks them for coming and......DOING THEIR JOB!!!
They go away, give the go ahead to the project, and DO NOT ADDRESS your concerns.
The NDP have done this time and time again, and every time we hope for a different result!
The legacy left to us by the NDP is
Polluted shore lines and dead zones from fish farming.
Polluted lakes and rivers in SW Nova from the mink industry.
HST of 15%
Power rates so high none of us can afford to heat our homes.
Need I go on? Will The Liberals or Conservatives be any better?
Probably not, but by crackie we will find out.


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