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Pressure at Sea: Can Port Mouton Bay Survive?

by Ellen Hardy
5 September 2008, at 1:00am

CANADA - The question still lingers as to whether to accommodate an additional, and what is deemed to become Nova Scotias largest aquaculture site, in Port Mouton Bay.

According to Mary Ediger of The Chronicle Herald, the provincial governments recent purchase of the lands behind Carters and Wobamkek beaches and the promise to protect that area has seemingly placated many area residents into thinking the aquaculture issue is dead. "But this is not the case," she writes. "The pending decision has the local lobster fishers nervous and concerned for their futures."

Opposition to the proposal continues to mount within a growing society of both fishers and concerned individuals, The Friends of Port Mouton Bay, whose collective goal is to prevent the granting of this application. Also mounting is scientific evidence to support the case that Port Mouton Bay cannot withstand the negative environmental impacts generated from such a colossal aquaculture operation.

The Chronicle Herald reports that local fishers are key in directing research to challenge the application. Physical oceanographers, Ron Loucks, Ph.D. and his wife Ruth E. Smith, (a Port Moutoner), of R.H Loucks Oceanography Ltd., have volunteered countless hours, conducting studies that are turning out to support the local fishers theories, the foremost being that the bay lacks adequate flushing capacity required for open cage salmon farming.

This idea is supported through observation of seabed drifters and mid-current "drogues," released near Port Mouton Island. Bathymetric study shows the projected site to be a basin, an area of deposition, meaning that fecal matter and nuisance algae stimulated by dissolved nutrients collect in the basin and cover the seabed. This leads to depletion of oxygen, and loss of the natural habitat.

Ellen Hardy