Fish­er­men firm on block­ing mill’s sur­vey ves­sel

Plan is to keep boat hired by North­ern Pulp mill from Northum­ber­land Strait

StarMetro Halifax - - NEWS -

A group of Northum­ber­land Strait fish­er­men said they will block a sur­vey boat hired by the North­ern Pulp mill from en­ter­ing the strait to do work on a pro­posed new route for an ef­flu­ent pipe.

Dar­ryl Bowen, a fish­er­man from Cari­bou, N.S., said in a tele­phone in­ter­view on Mon­day he will make sure his boat or an­other fish­ing ves­sel is placed in front of the sur­vey ves­sel if it at­tempts to leave Pic­tou’s har­bour in north­east­ern Nova Sco­tia.

The 48-year-old fish­er­man said his group has a num­ber of fish­ing boats avail­able to move quickly to block the sur­vey ves­sel if it at­tempts to leave.

“If they try to get out, we’re just go­ing to keep get­ting in front of them so that they can’t get by us,” he said, adding

there were six or seven boats in the one-kilo­me­tre­long har­bour mouth. “They won’t get by … We’ll block them,” said Bowen.

How­ever, a spokesper­son for North­ern Pulp said the sur­vey ves­sel isn’t cur­rently in the wa­ter, and the com­pany

doesn’t plan on do­ing any­thing that will jeop­ar­dize the safety of its con­trac­tor’s em­ploy­ees. Kathy Cloutier, direc­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the mill’s par­ent com­pany, Pa­per Ex­cel­lence Canada, said in an email that, “safety within Pa­per Ex­cel­lence Canada and

its fa­cil­i­ties is para­mount.”

“When sit­u­a­tions oc­cur, we will seek guid­ance and work with au­thor­i­ties to en­sure the safety of all in­volved.”

She said there have been dis­cus­sions over the past week between North­ern Pulp, con­tract sur­vey crew and lead­er­ship of fish­eries groups, and she added that “the in­for­ma­tion sur­vey crew mem­bers are seek­ing to ob­tain is data that may be of ben­e­fit to var­i­ous in­ter­ested par­ties.”

Bowen said the protest by fish­er­men from sev­eral ports started Mon­day but will con­tinue as long as nec­es­sary to prevent the sur­vey from tak­ing place.

He said the view of the fish­er­men is it’s safer to prevent the sur­vey­ors from en­ter­ing the strait than hav­ing the ves­sel go out on open wa­ter and be con­fronted by hos­tile fish­ing boats, which has oc­curred re­cently.

“The last time they got out there, we went up (to them), and it didn’t take long for them to run back to shore,” said Bowen, who fishes lob­ster, crab and scal­lops.

An RCMP spokesper­son said Mon­day they were aware of the fish­er­men’s state­ments. “We are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion,” said Cpl. Jen­nifer Clarke.

Though the North­ern Pulp mill near Pic­tou pro­vides key jobs for the town of about

3,000 res­i­dents, its pipe­line plan has raised con­cerns about the im­pact on the lob­ster fish­ery, other seafood busi­nesses and pro­tected ar­eas along the coast.

Un­der pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion, the mill has un­til 2020 to re­place its cur­rent waste wa­ter treat­ment plant in Boat Har­bour, and Pre­mier Stephen Mcneil has con­firmed he is stick­ing with that dead­line.

Af­ter years of pump­ing 70 mil­lion litres of treated waste daily into la­goons on the edge of the nearby Pic­tou Land­ing First Na­tion re­serve, North­ern Pulp wants to pipe it di­rectly into the strait that sep­a­rates Nova Sco­tia from P.E.I.

The la­goons con­tain nearly

50 years’ worth of toxic waste, which for­mer Nova Sco­tia en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Iain Rankin has called one of the worst cases of en­vi­ron­men­tal racism in Canada.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

North­ern Pulp’s pipe­line plan has raised con­cerns about the im­pact on the lob­ster fish­ery, other seafood busi­nesses and pro­tected ar­eas along the coast.

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