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Locals Face up to Great Lakes Trout Farmers

Trout Environment Economics +4 more

CANADA - Both local people and fish farmers aim to help the environment as a battle brews over plans to expand the industry in the Great Lakes.

Aiming to reclaim Canada's place as a big player in the booming international fish industry, the federal government plans to expand fish farming in the Great Lakes.

The Star reports that the contentious proposal – still in its consultation phase – is pitting Ontario fish farmers against Georgian Bay cottagers. Both groups claim they are protecting the environment.

"These farm operations are allowed to run in public water with no nutrient capture and treatment requirements. Their attitude is, the solution to pollution is dilution," says Bob Duncanson, executive director of the Georgian Bay Association, a group that includes 4,200 cottages on Lake Huron, where most of the fish farms now operate.

"When does it stop? You may be a small operation but open it up, we could get larger operations in there."

Rather than polluting the water, say fish farmers, the fish manure is enhancing the lake's productivity, replacing nutrients that otherwise would have come from the rotting leaves of logged shoreline forests and the depleted wild fish stock.

Ontario fish farms, concentrated in northern Lake Huron, raise rainbow trout in pens and produce about 4,000 tonnes annually, according to The Star.