I don’t think it’s a good idea to write a blog post when you’re angry, so I’m going to swallow my emotions and offer you a dispassionate account of recent events. If you detect any rancor in the following tale it will be entirely accidental. 🙂
The outfit which owns the Salmon Farm in Harbour de Lute said that they were sending some big boats to help clean up all the nets in Otter Cove. Well, their boats arrived but the Site Foreman decided that they had their “own work to do” and wouldn’t be participating.
The Fundy North Fishermen’s Association was providing half the funds and sent a man from Deer Island with his scow and boom. Gerry, his crewman, and a local fisherman started to clean up the mess. These are big nets, and they are waterlogged, so they’re very heavy. The weight is compounded by the 8 cement balls attached to each – designed to keep them on the bottom of the cove.
After approximately 8 hours of effort (over 2 days) a total of 22 nets had been lifted out of the water. It was at this point that the Salmon Farm announced that they wouldn’t be funding anymore of the clean-up.
There are a great many rules involved with disposal of the nets. After the first day the scow took the load to Deer Island with the intention of offloading them (the nets have to drain for at least 24 hours before they can be trucked to the mainland). However, none of the other Fundy Islands will allow the nets to be offloaded onto their wharves – the possibility of contamination (think disease, lice, etc.,) is too great.
So the scow brought the nets back to Campobello and, after lifting more of the stuff from the Cove, placed them all onto Jackson’s Breakwater.
Once they’ve drained (so that there is no possibility of bad stuff in the water leaking on the road) the nets must be transported in a closed truck (again contamination is still a big concern). Two men who were willing to consider taking the nets to a recycling plant in Pennfield each took one look at the pile and decided they weren’t interested.
We know that the 22 nets are just a small portion of the mess in that Cove. One spectator, watching them be offloaded, said he had been there when more than 100 had been dumped at that location (you’d think somebody would have sounded an alarm at that point).
People were on the phone with a variety of agencies all day. So far Fundy North, the Salmon Farm, Transport Canada, Fisheries & Oceans, and the Coast Guard are all taking an interest. One of them, at the end of the day, said “OMG it’s a dump site!”. Well, yes, this is what we’ve been saying. sigh
One of the things I found interesting about these first 22 nets is that there were no crabs in them. You can’t lift shutoff twine when you’re fishing for herring without a lot of crabs coming up. It was explained to me that these nets are dipped in copper. This is apparently a safe thing to do when the net is surrounding a cage. However, a high concentration of nets in one location, left to leach out over time, has a seriously negative affect.
There are still far more than 100 nets in that one Cove – the dumping has been going on for years. We haven’t even begun to address the far side of Harbour de Lute where we know nets have been dumped. In addition, all of the other locations around the Island, which are home to caged salmon, have their own messes.
The leases for Salmon Farm sites change owners frequently. This coincides with the ownership changes in the companies as well. Weirdly there is always a holding company with multiple firms under their umbrella and the site licenses bounce around from one to another. It is purely coincidental that the Province of New Brunswick does not hold a Salmon Farm liable for any actions taken by previous site lease holders.
So to summarize, there is a huge problem with Salmon Farm garbage in Otter Cove. There is no funding at this moment to proceed with any more clean-up. The nets which have been lifted have to be transported to the mainland and we can’t find somebody to do that.
A big part of the difficulty right now is that nobody owns the problem – apart from people here on the Island who have no power and no funding.
The Coast Guard doesn’t have this type of thing in their mandate – although they are going to contact the Department of Fisheries to see if they can get us some help. The man at Transport Canada who has done some work on this is on vacation until September 7 (remember, part of the reason we’re trying to get this done is so fishing can happen in the Cove and September will be too late). Fundy North can only do so much.
Is it any wonder that the people on this Island don’t usually try to get help from outside? This problem has been going on for years and it’s time to get it fixed. Unfortunately, the brick walls are so far proving inpenetrable.
On a positive note, I’m not bored. 🙂