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Letter: You can't put a price on pristine


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We need a formula for looking at growth. 

Every development opportunity needs to be evaluated on its proven economic merits. This is especially true in resource-dependent communities, where environmental health, economic and social well-being are woven tightly together. It's our job to not buy into pipe dreams and outlandish promises when there are threats to our resources. If adaptations and environmental risks are the trade-off, we need to be assured and confident of net benefits and sustainability of the new venture before saying Yes.

A new science report from DFO (Jan 2015) provides data on pesticide use in salmon and trout aquaculture. Lobsters were found to carry sub-lethal pesticide residues and were affected by pesticide drift as far as 10 kilometers from the treatment site. This effectively enlarges the environmental (economic and social) impact of every fish feedlot to a 20 kilometer diameter. 

Will the annual aquaculture lease fees of $ 12 per hectare cover such a wide field of damage and losses to habitat and natural populations? 

Jordan Bay has been closed to shellfish harvest for an entire year. Clammers, urchin divers, scallop divers and lobster fishermen need to add up their lost revenues and balance the amounts against verifiable economic gains. Speaking of gains, has anyone asked the Auditor General to examine the unsupported claim of $39 million revenue to Nova Scotia from salmon and trout feedlots?

...and speaking of risk... an article in the Chronicle Herald Jan 29 cites well-known DFO scientist John Tremblay:

"Because lobster take from six to nine years to reach commercial size, current data collection methods only give scientists the ability to project recruitment about three years down the road."

Are we really wise to risk our billion-dollar sustainable lobster fishery for broken promises of jobs?

Sharing is all about compatibility. We happily share our harbours with visitors, both sailors and landlubbers. Seaplant harvesters, eel trappers, clammers and divers who bring up urchins and scallops... all live in harmony. All work in a simple hunter-gatherer or fishing model ... finding and harvesting from the wild without depleting breeding stock.

It's hard to put dollar values on a clean harbour and a happy healthy community, but we all recognize the de-valuing that takes place when corporate greed is in conflict with environmental protection. Money huggers versus tree huggers. It ain't pretty, and you can't put a price on pristine.

Gloria Gilbert

Shelburne County

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