Couple appealing Shelburne fish farm licenses

Published on June 15, 2011
Salmon farms in Shelburne Harbour will be under the microscope during an appeal filed in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

by Greg Bennett

The Coast Guard


A Shelburne County couple has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia over a decision to approve the lease/licensing of three Shelburne Harbour salmon aquaculture Sites.

Marian and Herschel Specter, of Sandy Point, filed the appeal on June 13 through their lawyer, Andrew Taillon, of Cox & Palmer.

The appeal, allowed through the Fisheries Coastal Resources Act, is a rarely used mechanism, but Taillon compared it to more familiar remedies used to dispute decisions of the Workers Compensation Board.

Taillon said the Nova Scotia Supreme Court would be asked offer directions on the future steps of the appeal during a hearing on June 29.

The three main grounds for the appeal are that the Minister’s decision to grant the licenses and leases were unreasonable for several reasons, among which are:

·       -The Minister erroneously treated the sites in question as amendments to existing sites rather than as new sites,

·       The Minister’s decision violated the directives and guidelines of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans,

·       The Minister failed to engage in a sufficient public consultation process.

The Specters, who live near one of the present sites in the Inner Harbour are the founders of the Friends of Shelburne Harbour, a group which has expressed strong objections to ocean-based fish farming in general and specifically in Shelburne. The Specters have expressed specific concerns about pollution caused from the fish farming operations.

“The monitoring data we received from the province shocked us into action,” said Marian Specter.

A spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture said Minister Sterling Belliveau would not offer comment because the matter involved impending legal action.

Representatives of Cooke Aquaculture, which will continue the process of moving its cages within Shelburne Harbour this summer, expressed disappointment about the news of the legal action.

“We’ll just have to let the process unfold,” said Nell Halse, VP of public relations. “It’s unfortunate the complainants have never engaged with us directly over their concerns, despite our repeated attempts to engage them. We’ve responded to their request with a great deal of information and asked … ‘can you please just meet with us.’ They totally ignored us.”