Donny Wager of Harbour Breton walked into the Coaster office on Thursday, May 23, carrying a list of names.
The names are those of lobster and crab harvesters in Connaigre Bay who in Mr. Wagner’s words are “dead against” any aquaculture sites in that bay. At the meeting in Harbour Breton on April, a meeting between the harvesters and representatives of Cooke Aquaculture, ten lobster fishermen signed a list signifying their opposition to the cages: Glenn Herritt, Newman Short, Donny Wagner, Alex Snook, Andrew Hunt, Paul Stoodley, Wade Stoodley, Sid Stoodley, John Snook, and Wayne Stoodley.
Also at the meeting and signing were crab harvesters Kevin Connock, Perry Loveless and Kevin Bungay. Mr. Wagner also had a list of 15 other crab harvesters who did not attend the Harbour Breton meeting, all of whom, he said, are against any aquaculture development in Connaigre Bay.
“It is my understanding that in the licensing process, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is required to consult with the all the harvesters in Connaigre Bay,” explained Mr. Wagner. “This was not done. We were not consulted.”
“At some of our meetings with the aquaculture companies,” Mr. Wagner continued, “we have expressed our concerns about the long and short term effects of aquaculture on the fishing environment, and there have been no satisfactory answers forthcoming. Until we get satisfaction and answers to our questions, we will remain opposed to any development in Connaigre Bay.” He adds that the harvesters are still open to consultation with the industry and with DFA.
Mr. Wagner believes that Connaigre Bay should be given an “exempt” status, exempt from any kind of aquaculture sites. “It could be used a testing ground,” he said, “so that in the years to come we could compare the yield in Connaigre Bay to the yield in other bays where aquaculture is today. Then we will know if aquaculture negatively affects our industry as it reportedly has done in other parts of Canada and the world.”