Feedback Responses

The following “feedback” was mostly obtained through examination of the FOAH website and social media by a member of the CLC committee. The CLC asked TPO to respond directly to a number of these issues. 

 

Responses from Town Point Oysters ← Click Here.

Responses from the CLC ← Click Here.

 

Responses from Town Point Oysters

 

Feedback: Environmental impact assessment

 

Town Point Oysters’s Response:

 

Environmental assessment and ongoing monitoring are elements of both the application process and the required Farm Management Plan, including mandatory participation in the Environmental Monitoring Program.

 

There is not a separate “Environmental impact study” required by Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries & Aquaculture (NSDFA) for shellfish aquaculture applicants.  Each application is reviewed by multiple government agencies, including the following departments: Environment, Lands and Forestry,  Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Canadian Wildlife Services, etc.  Concerns raised by any of the network departments involved in the application review process will be addressed and conditions satisfied prior to submission to the Aquaculture Review Panel.

“Public attitudes towards marine aquaculture in Canada: insights from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts” Aquaculture International, Mark Flaherty, Gregor Reid, Thierry Chopin & Erin Latham 

  • “When considered in the context of other major sectors of the Canadian economy (e.g. agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and natural gas), all of which have significant ecological impacts, the aquaculture industry has a positive story to tell. Protein production is more efficient than any other animal production system, the industry has a lower carbon footprint than any other animal production system, and production is irrevocably dependent upon a healthy ocean environment. Arguably, the aquaculture industry is being held to a much higher standard. This can, in part, be attributed to ENGO campaigns that have been very effective in messaging and reducing complex issues to simple tropes that have become engrained in the aquaculture discourse. The net effect has been to create and perpetuate a climate of public skepticism and opposition that has spilled over into the political realm. The public, particularly in British Columbia, finds itself caught within a fog of competing politicized agendas, contested science and misinformation.”

Feedback: Farm will have negative effect on the harbour

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We understand that all anthropogenic activity, whether conducted on land, water or air, will have an impact.  From the outset, our consideration of whether to proceed with oyster aquaculture was based largely on the fact that oyster aquaculture is widely considered to be one of the “greenest”, most sustainable, and least impactful of any land or water-based farming endeavors.

 

We are confident that our farm design and innovative growth units will create a  sustainable eco-friendly operation.  The growth units and farm plan go far toward mitigating concerns regarding density, visibility, damage from weather events, fouling, roosting by birds, and disturbance to other wildlife.
 

“Habitat Management Qualitative Risk Assessment : Water Column Oyster Aquaculture in New Brunswick”  S. Bastien-Daigle, M. Hardy and G. Robichaud 

 

  • “Moreover, our analysis suggests that oysters in aquaculture can potentially be of significant benefit to these estuaries and can help to restore many important ecological functions which were reduced following the historical decline of natural populations.”

 

"Suspended versus bottom oyster culture in eastern Canada: Comparing stocking densities and clearance rates" Aquaculture, Luc A.Comeau

 

  • “Finally, as the industry embraces suspended culture, coastal residents and recreational boaters tend to oppose the technique on the basis of visual or  leisure amenity values. Others oppose suspended culture on the basis of perceived negative environmental impacts. At first glance, multiple floating structures distributed over large estuarine areas seem disruptive to ecological health. Yet, often overlooked are the positive ecological effects of suspended oyster culture. By making available a 3-dimensional substrate, suspended structures provide  habitat for native  fish and invertebrate species” 

 

“The ecological role of bivalve shellfish aquaculture in the estuarine environment: A review with application to oyster and clam culture in West Coast (USA) estuaries.” Aquaculture, Brett R.Dumbauld, Jennifer L.Ruesink, Steven S.Rumrill 

 

  • “Though local and short term effects from aquaculture are clearly evident in U.S. West Coast estuaries, bivalve aquaculture does not remove area from the estuary or degrade water quality like other anthropogenic influences, and thus has not been implicated in shifts to alternate states or reduced adaptive capacity of the larger ecological system.”

 

  • “Bivalve aquaculture differs importantly from the culture of most finfish and crustaceans (Pohle et al., 2001; Crawford et al., 2003) in that cultured bivalves exploit naturally occurring phytoplankton at the base of the estuarine food chain, thus obviating the need for external feed inputs. For this reason, shellfish aquaculture does not result in additional nutrient loading,...”

Feedback: Potential impact on salmon and other fish.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Oyster aquaculture operations are not considered to negatively impact finfish species, including salmon. We met with Dr.  Aaron Spares, a professor at Acadia University whose doctorate thesis was in part, a study of migratory habits of brook trout in Antigonish Harbour (thesis linked below). Discussions with Dr. Spares supported our belief that no negative impact on finfish in Antigonish Harbour would be expected as a result of the construction or operation of the proposed farm.

 

Discussions with members of the local salmon association, local recreational fishers, local commercial fishers, and government regulators indicate that there would be no expected negative impact on finfish including salmon. There may be beneficial results related to cleaner water and added safe-haven habitat for small fish provided by farm structures. 

 

“ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES ON THE MARINE MIGRATION OF ARCTIC CHAR AND BROOK TROUT (SALVELINUS SPP.)” Aaron Drew Spares

 

“Habitat Management Qualitative Risk Assessment: Water Column Oyster Aquaculture in New Brunswick” S. Bastien-Daigle, M. Hardy and G. Robichaud 

 

  • “An Ecological Risk Assessment and a Net Ecological Benefit Analysis are used to make determinations as to the effects and functions, respectively, of water column oyster aquaculture in gulf N.B. Using the risk assessment, we conclude that the overall “scale of potential negative effects” of water column oyster aquaculture and the “sensitivity of fish and fish habitat” correspond to a low-risk activity which is not likely to significantly harm the productive capacity or the ecological integrity of fish habitat. Moreover, our analysis suggests that oysters in aquaculture can potentially be of significant benefit to these estuaries and can help to restore many important ecological functions which were reduced following the historical decline of natural populations.”

 

  • “Some authors have proposed that the aquaculture equipment itself, and other structures, may contribute to estuarine productivity by creating a hard substrate; availability of these surface areas can limit the colonization of certain organisms (McKindsey et al. 2006a). Passing from an essentially two-dimensional sand-mud habitat to a three-dimensional hard surfaced habitat can dramatically alter the surface area available.”

 

  • “Aquaculture gear increased habitat complexity and supported higher abundances of organisms than non-vegetated seabed; this was determined to be particularly beneficial to recreational and commercial fish and invertebrate species in their early life stages. DeAlteris et al. (2004) concluded that the relative habitat value of aquaculture gear is at least equivalent to submerged aquatic vegetation.” 

 

"Suspended versus bottom oyster culture in eastern Canada: Comparing stocking densities and clearance rates" Aquaculture, Luc A.Comeau

 

  • “Finally, as the industry embraces suspended culture, coastal residents and recreational boaters tend to oppose the technique on the basis of visual or leisure amenity values. Others oppose suspended culture on the basis of perceived negative environmental impacts. At first glance, multiple floating structures distributed over large estuarine areas seem disruptive to ecological health. Yet, often overlooked are the positive ecological effects of suspended oyster culture. By making available a 3-dimensional substrate, suspended structures provide  habitat for native  fish and invertebrate species” 

 

  • “This investigation provides one of the first numerical assessments of suspended oyster culture in eastern Canada. It was found that the present transition from bottom to suspended culture results in an actual reduction in oyster stocking density. Moreover, it was reported that suspended oysters have a weak grazing potential per unit body weight when compared to bottom oysters. A bay-scale assessment of an intensive culture site led to the conclusion that cultivated oysters do not exert a dominant top-down control on phytoplankton abundance."

Feedback: Potential impact on eelgrass

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Any loss of eelgrass in Antigonish Harbour would be considered a negative impact. An on-site eelgrass survey was conducted by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) scientists. A DFO scientist noted that the oyster farm will likely

have a positive impact on the overall health of the eelgrass in the harbour due to reduced turbidity of the water. There is potential for reduced growth directly under the growth units due to shading; however, feedback from this DFO scientist noted that the net effect more broadly is likely to be beneficial. Additionally, the design of the growth units TPO will use minimizes the shading of sunlight on the eelgrass below growth units. TPO’s growth units will cover only 0.1% of the

harbour surface area.

 

Antigonish Harbour is 4,400 acres. TPO’s proposed lease sites comprise 90.3 acres which is 2% of the harbour. However, the growth units occupy less than 4% of lease areas. Therefore, the portion of Antigonish Harbour covered by growth units  will be about 0.1%.

 

An article cited below asserts that eelgrass can benefit from co-culture with oysters, as this co-culture was shown to reduce the severity of Eelgrass Wasting Disease (EWD) by filtering out pathogens that cause EWD.  According to this article, operations such as the proposed farm may reduce the chance of disease outbreak by filtering more of the pathogens that cause EWD. EWD is caused by a pathogenic slime mold, “Labyrinthula”, which is present in Antigonish Harbour. This pathogen was responsible for the decimation of eelgrass in the 1930”s.  Subsequently, stocks rebounded until the early 2000”s when the arrival of the Green Crab, led to another decimation. 
 

“Oysters and eelgrass: potential partners in a high pCO2 ocean” Ecology, Maya L. Groner,  Colleen A. Burge,  Ruth Cox,  Natalie D. Rivlin,  Mo Turner, Kathryn L. Van Alstyne,  Sandy Wyllie‐Echeverria,  John Bucci,  Philip Staudigel,  Carolyn S. Friedman

 

  • “In conclusion, our study provides preliminary evidence to suggest that eelgrass and possibly oysters could benefit from co-culture under projected pCO2 conditions”

 

“Effects of Bivalve Aquaculture on the Environment and Their Possible Mitigation: A Review” Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal, Daria Gallardi

  • "The functions of water clarification and bio deposition that characterize filter-feeding bivalves are valuable providers of ecological services to shallow water ecosystems. Bivalves help buffer estuaries and coastal ocean waters against excessive phytoplankton blooms in response to anthropogenic loading of nitrogen, counteracting the symptoms of eutrophication; they also remove inorganic sediments from suspension, counteracting coastal water turbidity. The biodeposition created by mussels and oysters, through the creation of sediment anoxic microzones where denitrifying bacteria are promoted, induce denitrification, which also help to counteract eutrophication by returning nitrogen into the atmosphere as inert nitrogen gas [3,8,9,39,40]. Moreover, the enhancement of water clarity due to filtration allows deeper light penetration and therefore can increase the growth of seagrasses that are important nursery habitat for many fish, crustaceans and molluscs; bivalves are therefore capable of enhancing estuarine nursery habitats [9,40,41]. These natural functions of bivalves can be employed in aquaculture not only to mitigate the environmental effects of the culture, but also to create added value and services for the surrounding environment.”

 

“Bivalve aquaculture and eelgrass: A global meta-analysis” Aquaculture, Bridget E. Ferriss, Letitia L. Conway-Cranos, Beth L.Sanderson, Laura Hoberecht 

 

  • “These analyses suggest the response of eelgrass to bivalve aquaculture varies depending on eelgrass characteristics, grow-out approaches, and harvesting methods, with potential regionally specific relationships. Questions remain, regarding how this dynamic relationship between eelgrass and aquaculture habitat relates to ecological functions and services in the nearshore environment.”

Feedback: Potential impact of sinking cages in winter

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Our “BOBR”, (Benefit Of Being Round) growth units are sunk in a different way than commonly used oyster growth units. Rather than the cage resting on the bottom, BOBR  units will remain buoyant and only the lines are sunk. This will mitigate the impact on eelgrass during overwintering.

Feedback: Oysters will acidify the water

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We have taken this concern seriously and have spent considerable time researching it. Our review of relevant scientific research indicates that the connection between ocean acidification and oysters is mainly a growing concern about the effect of ocean acidification on all shellfish and the stresses detrimental to oysters. Juvenile oysters may be impacted by decreased ability to generate shell mass. We have been unable to find any scientific peer-reviewed articles to suggest oyster aquaculture contributes to ocean acidification.

 

Oysters that grow naturally and are not harvested provide an ongoing buffering effect after death that tends, in a small way, to work against increased acidification provided the shell decays in place. Oysters grown on a farm or harvested from wild stocks do not generally have the shell returned to the ocean which may limit, to some extent, the buffering effect. However, there will be an indirect benefit from increased spat production which will lead to more oysters

throughout the harbour. Most of these will not be harvested and will contribute to the buffering effect. 

 

Furthermore, in Antigonish Harbour there are several gypsum outcrops . Gypsum is composed mainly of calcium, which is continuously dissolving into the harbour. This would tend to provide a far greater buffering effect than that of decaying oyster shells regardless of the farm’s presence. 

Feedback: Potential impact of farmed oysters competing for nutrients.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

This would be a concern in a nutrient deficient harbour. However, Antigonish is a nutrient excessive harbour due to many factors. The watershed area tributary to Antigonish Harbour measures about 750 square kilometers. Within this area there

are significant anthropogenic sources of excess nitrogen and phosphorus.  Runoff from farms, gardens, yards, outflow from septic systems and sewage treatment facilities flow into the harbour adding to naturally occurring nutrients. This creates a nutrient loading, leading to excess growth of algae and other marine organisms that consume these compounds. The proposed oyster farm will help to mitigate this imbalance both by direct consumption of algae and phytoplankton and by converting the contained nitrates and phosphorus into forms more readily used by larger plants like eelgrass.

 

Heavy rain events within the watershed area cause silt runoff from clear cuts, agricultural land, and such to flow into the harbour. This is easily evidenced by the brown colour of the harbour water for days following such rain events.

 

As a result of these anthropogenic inputs, water quality in the harbour is far from pristine. This is why Antigonish Harbour is classified as “Closed, Restricted” (photo below) and it is why shellfish harvesting within the Harbour is prohibited by

anyone other than licensed harvesters. Because oysters are filter feeders they readily feed on the very materials that are causing the water to be polluted. Oysters consume some of the excess algae, phytoplankton, silt, detritus, and in the process clarify the water. The proposed farm will improve the quality of water in the harbour. Cleaner, clearer water will result. It will not sterilize the harbour or render it unsustainable for other flora and fauna. 

 

Worldwide, there remains only 10% of historic oyster stocks. That means that  90% of oyster stocks that used to be present no longer exist. It is reasonable to assume the same is true here and there is anecdotal evidence from First Nations accounts that support this notion. So, if presently there is only a small fraction of the oysters in Antigonish Harbour than it historically supported, adding the stock that would reside in the proposed farm could potentially aid in restoring the harbour’s ecological balance to its historical state.

 

“Habitat Management Qualitative Risk Assessment : Water Column Oyster Aquaculture in New Brunswick” S. Bastien-Daigle, M. Hardy and G. Robichaud 

 

  • “The current state is one of depleted natural oyster populations. It is estimated that populations diminished by more than 90% following the Malpeque disease. In some regions a 100 to 1,000 fold increase in population would be required to restore the desired services provided by oysters (Luckenbach 2004). Bivalve aquaculture is increasingly recognized as being critical in providing important ecosystem services and public benefits, such as mitigating water quality degradation (Powers et al., 2007)”

 

"Suspended versus bottom oyster culture in eastern Canada: Comparing stocking densities and clearance rates" Aquaculture, Luc A.Comeau

 

  • “This investigation provides one of the first numerical assessments of suspended oyster culture in eastern Canada. It was found that the  present transition from bottom to suspended culture results in an actual reduction in oyster stocking density. Moreover, it was reported that suspended oysters have a weak grazing potential per unit body weight when compared to bottom oysters. A bay-scale assessment of an intensive culture site led to the conclusion that cultivated oysters do not exert a dominant top-down control on phytoplankton abundance.”

 

Photo below is one of the many Closed Harbour signs posted around the harbour.

Oysters grown or harvested in closed restricted areas are cleansed through either  “relay” or “depuration”.  Relay,  is transferring the oysters to a remote “open” lease site and sinking them to the bottom for 21 days prior to being sold to market. Depuration involves purification and decontamination under controlled, monitored and tested conditions in a CFIA approved facility prior to being sold to market.

Feedback: Potential use of “Chemical Antifouling”

 

TPO’s Response:

 

TPO does not plan to use any “chemical antifouling”. There are biocides available that could be used to treat the farm gear and perhaps even the oysters, but we have chosen to avoid these products in favor of using non-chemical means of de-fouling. We ourselves live and play on the harbour and want to reduce the chemical loading on the harbour, not add to it. We also hope to work toward achieving any organic certifications that may be available. Therefore, using chemicals for de-fouling would be counterproductive for both our personal and business interests.

Feedback: Potential impact on Piping Plovers

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We spent significant time, effort, and energy to learn about local piping plover habitat and potential risks that may be posed by our oyster aquaculture operation.  We have consulted with Randy Lauff, at Saint Francis Xavier University, (StFX), ornithological consultant Clarence Stevens, Dillon Consulting, The Ecology Action Centre, NS Dept. of Lands and Forestry, and Bird Studies Canada.  Based on their feedback, we reduced the size and moved the location of the Gooseberry Island lease, to create a buffer consistent with the collective advice from these experts.

 

This information is contained in our application which is publicly available on the NSDFA website.

 

“Assessing conservation conflict: Does intertidal oyster aquaculture inhibit foraging behavior of migratory shorebirds?” Ecosphere, Brooke Maslo, J. Curtis Burkhalter, David Bushek, Tanner Yuhas, Brian Schumm, Joanna Burger,  Julie L. Lockwood

 

  • “This evidence suggests that intertidal oyster aquaculture and migrating shorebirds can co‐utilize the resource rich intertidal areas on which they occur.” (full abstract quoted below)

 

  • “Conservation is increasingly in conflict with human activities due to global human population growth, particularly in areas that support threatened species. Conflicts often impede effective implementation of needed conservation measures and also have implications for social inequality, resource use and economic development. Bivalve molluscan shellfish aquaculture is commonly considered one of the least impactful forms of protein production worldwide but, in some locations, may interfere with essential activities of threatened species such as the stopover ecology of migrating shorebirds. Here we assess the impact of oyster aquaculture as practiced in Delaware Bay (New Jersey, USA) on the presence and foraging behavior of migratory shorebird species of conservation concern. We conducted counts and behavioral observations of shorebirds across a 4.8‐km stretch of the Delaware Bay and tested the effect of regulated aquaculture structures and activities on shorebird presence relative to various environmental factors. We also evaluated differences in mean peck rates for each species within and away from aquaculture areas, and we examined multiple factors influencing foraging rates for each species. For all species, we found that oyster tending reduced the probability of shorebird presence by 1–7%, whereas the untended aquaculture structures had no detectable impact. Foraging rates were mostly influenced by environmental conditions, particularly the presence of competitors (gulls or other shorebirds), and the foraging substrate. None of the focal species substantially altered their time budget or foraging rates in the presence of tended or untended oyster aquaculture. This evidence suggests that intertidal oyster aquaculture and migrating shorebirds can co‐utilize the resource rich intertidal areas on which they occur.”

Feedback: Potential impact of the nursery supply and outflow pipes

 

TPO’s Response:

 

DFO, environment, transportation, DFA, and about six other government agencies studied our application for the Land-Based Nursery, in which the pipe sizes, location, length, and flow rates are described in detail. The nursery was approved by these departments as designed. 

 

The oyster seed (baby oysters) in this nursery filter incoming seawater to feed and no supplemental feed will be added. There will be no chemical treatment of the seed in the nursery. This is a flow-through system, the same amount of water that enters the system is returned back to the harbour completely untreated other than the filtering from the oysters.

The oyster seed in the nursery, just as the oysters on the proposed farm sites, filter their food from adjacent seawater. So, the oysters in the nursery will provide the same beneficial effect as those on the farm. They will remove phytoplankton, detritus, EWD pathogens, and silt particles, leaving the water cleaner and clearer. In the process, they will excrete feces and pseudofaeces that will not remain in suspension as readily as the fine particles the oysters ingested. These sediments settle to the bottom and contain converted forms of nitrate and phosphate nutrients that are more useful to marine plants like eelgrass, than the fine suspended particles residing in the water column. Also, the current adjacent to the nursery is among the strongest in the harbour, therefore dispersion and resuspension with wider dissemination of these sediments will occur.

 

The quantity of water exchanged through the nursery is in orders of magnitude small, compared to the volume of water exchanged with each changing tide. Assuming an average tide amplitude of 2’-0” and that the nursery is running at full capacity the daily flow through the nursery will amount to about .024% of the water flowing past it.

 

All those who have asked directly about this issue have been informed. There has been no attempt by TPO to mislead or withhold any information about the Nursery operation. 

 

“Habitat Management Qualitative Risk Assessment: Water Column Oyster Aquaculture in New Brunswick” Canadian Technical Report of  Fisheries and Aquatic Science 2728, S. Bastein-Daigle, M.  Hardy, G. Robichaud 

  • Below is a relevant chart from the above publication.  

Feedback: The Nursery is constructed on crown land. 

 

TPO’s Response:

 

The nursery is constructed on private property. No portion of the nursery is constructed on the crown land right of way. The supply and return pipes do not touch or cross the crown land right of way and do not obstruct foot traffic along the shore. The nursery was constructed as per the design submitted in the application which was reviewed by numerous government departments and approved.

 

The pipes are buried beneath the shoreline and extend out into the harbour. The portion of land below ordinary high water is crown land. For clarification, this land where the pipes run below ordinary high water land is not the “crown land right of way” nor is it a "public beach". All shoreline below ordinary high water is considered crown land.

 

The photograph below shows the area where the pipes lead from the harbour to the nursery. This photo clearly shows that there is no obstruction to foot traffic along the shore

The following response deals with permits related to work below ordinary high water.

Feedback: Nursery permits.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

The land-based nursery application was reviewed by numerous government departments and approved for construction as per the submitted design. The review process took 17 months during which NSDFA shared the application with other

relevant government departments and agencies. Ultimately the application was approved, and a license issued to build and operate this facility. Antigonish County issued a Development Permit and a Building Permit.

 

With respect to the inflow and outflow pipes, there was, however, a miscommunication that led us to believe no other permits were required. It turns out that a permit for work below ordinary high water was necessary. This gap in permitting was investigated by the government and it was determined that there was no wrongdoing by TPO. No charges followed, and no changes to the work were required. This was an honest mistake that resulted from a miscommunication. It was in no way an intentional avoidance by TPO. 

Feedback: Lease infringes on a “registered “ navigational route.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Ensuring protection to scheduled navigable waterways is a critical part of the aquaculture application process. 

 

Transport Canada has a Navigation Protection Program (NPP), which is incorporated into the site-specific license conditions and is a critical part of the aquaculture application process. The NPP is the agency that administers the Canadian Navigable Waters Act and oversees protections for scheduled waterways. 

 

TPO took this concern seriously and reached out to the Navigation Protection Program (NPP) to discuss this claim. The NPP was able to confirm that they are familiar with TPO’s application and that TPO has correctly followed the regulatory process under Transport Canada with the NPP. This process with the NPP is what will determine if there is or is not interference with navigation and whether any mitigation may be necessary.

 

Furthermore, TPO deliberately proposed lease areas that are not in frequent use and do not infringe on marked channels, commercial fishing vessel routes, or common boating areas. The decision of interference with navigation is up to Transport Canada. 

 

Navigation Protection Program

  • “The Navigation Protection Program (NPP) helps keep Canada’s navigable waters open for transport and recreation. The program administers the Canadian Navigable Waters Act."

 

  • “Program responsibilities. The program:

 

The Canadian Navigable Waters Act

  • “Restoring Lost Protections and keeping Canada’s Navigable Waters open for public use for years to come”

 

Scheduled Bodies of water. 

  • Click the link above to read through Transport Canada’s list of protected scheduled bodies of water. 

CLC’s Response:

 

It is important for the community to understand how navigable waterways are addressed and protected in Canada. There are scheduled bodies of water that are protected under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA). The Navigable Protection Program (NPP) is responsible for administering the CNWA. The NPP is a program of Transport Canada. So, to summarize - Transport Canada has an NPP which administers the CNWA which is responsible for protecting navigation in scheduled bodies of water and all other navigable waters.

 

The entire Atlantic Ocean is a scheduled body of water (link to scheduled bodies of water below). That being said, on Atlantic Tidal Waters every marine dock, bridge, oyster farm, offshore wind farm, or other form of works is on a protected scheduled body of water. These works all have to follow the regulatory process under Transport Canada’s Navigable Protection Program in order to determine if there is or is not interference with navigation, whether any mitigation may be necessary, and whether the works is approved or denied.

No “registered” navigable Waterways exist in Antigonish Harbour, or the rest of the Atlantic Ocean. It is not possible to “register” a navigable waterway, but what can be done is to apply to have navigable waters added to the schedule. However, the entire Atlantic Ocean is already scheduled, this includes Antigonish Harbour.

below.

 

We encourage community members to read the links below, learn about Transport Canada’s NPP, the CNWA, and Scheduled bodies of water. This will help community members understand how navigable waterways are addressed by the Canadian Government.

 

Navigation Protection Program

Canadian Navigable Waters Act

Scheduled Bodies of Water 

Feedback: Cages endanger boaters and fishers

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Protection for boaters are prescribed by Transport Canada. They consider the circumstances and dictate to the operator what conditions must be met to ensure safety for all. The lease sites will be marked as per Transport Canada requirements,

powerboats and sailboats will be required to avoid the sites, but kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards may pass through at their own risk.

Feedback: Cages may break free during storms

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Weather-related damage is certainly a potential risk. Should this happen we are well-positioned to respond quickly to retrieve any growth units that might break free as we would want them back. We have designed a farm that is less prone to storm damage due to the following features; the BOBR growth units to be used

have far less exposure to wind than commonly used systems, and also, the cylindrical shape of BOBR vs the rectangular shape of common units provides less drag from passing waves so less strain on the cage securements. The growth units are secured by two static lines, not one. There is far less chance of both lines failing in the same storm.

 

 Again, we have gone to great lengths to design and propose a superior system that will outperform existing farm systems providing greater security from storm damage and less likelihood of gear losses. Due to close proximity and direct line of sight, TPO will be able to monitor farm sites during storm events and will be able to respond quickly should damage occur.

 

The proposed lease sites were chosen in part due to their lack of exposure to large waves. The maximum fetch is about 2 Km so maximum wave height is expected to be about 0.6 m. This is considered to be a low energy site and in the optimal range for siting of such an operation. Also, the narrow protected entrance to the harbour ensures no pounding ocean waves will impact the lease sites.

Feedback: Only seasonal jobs

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We have spent considerable time and analysis in order to “right-size” the farm in order to make year-round employment possible. After the farm is fully developed most positions will be year-round, not seasonal.

 

We plan to provide full-time employment to as many staff as possible. One of the principal reasons the farm plan is scaled to about 90 acres is to enable sufficient production to provide for full-time employment. The farm will require production of 2-3 million oysters per year in order to justify the capital cost of a depuration facility. This facility will enable year-round production and full-time employment for most staff.

 

After the farm is in full production, we plan to sell oysters year-round and thus employ most staff on a full-time basis. Jobs in cleaning, packing, shipping, sales, marketing, accounting, and management we expect will all be full-time.

Feedback: This farm will not help our economy as TPO is claiming.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

If the farm sites are approved, TPO will help to fulfill the call by the” Ivany Report”, urging all Nova Scotians to strive to decrease rural out-migration and maximize the available coastal resources that are so abundant here. His call is to create employment in coastal and rural communities, provide jobs that don’t exist today, and produce a valuable product that will contribute to provincial GDP. It is likely most of our product will be sold outside the region with the resulting benefit of injecting new funds into our local economy.

 

“The ecological role of bivalve shellfish aquaculture in the estuarine environment: A review with application to oyster and clam culture in West Coast (USA) estuaries.” Aquaculture, Brett R.Dumbauld, Jennifer L.Ruesink, Steven S.Rumrill 

 

  • “Aquaculture is increasingly viewed as a potential mechanism to meet the growing demand for food from the sea (Costa-Pierce, 2002), particularly as landings from world marine capture fisheries have plateaued (Brugere and Ridler, 2004; Muir, 2005). Although bivalve shellfish aquaculture represented only 10% of the world volume of fishery production in 2003, it represented 26% of world aquaculture production and 18% of world economic value (Lovatelli, 2006; Subasinghe, 2006). “

 

“The Ivany Report - Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians”

Feedback: Citizens taxes used for cleanup after potential storm damage

 

TPO’s Response:

 

There is a bond program through AANS in which farmers collectively participate. In the event, a farm is left fallow or there is extensive storm damage beyond the operator's capability to accommodate, the bond funds are available to deal with gear removal or other necessities.

 

The industry is very closely regulated and monitored by government so the chance of an operation falling into disrepair and failing without remediation is unlikely. In the case of TPO, this operator lives next to the proposed site and will be able to closely monitor conditions so that quick response will be possible if there is storm damage.

Feedback: Citizens taxes used for government subsidies to help oyster farm develop

 

TPO’s Response:

 

As with many industries, government does provide funding for certain aspects of the fishing industry. These funds are intended to encourage improvements to operations and to support general growth of the industry. The operations proposed by TPO may qualify for certain funding programs.

Feedback: It will increase traffic on Seabright Rd.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

Seabright Road is a public road all the way to the Porter’s property. Consequently, use of this road by TPO is within normal expectations. However, we have made it clear that there is no intention to operate on a retail basis,  so traffic on Seabright Road associated with the farm will be limited to employee commuting, infrequent delivery of supplies, and shipment of product a few times per week, regulator visits, and other interested visitors.

Feedback: Oyster farm is an eyesore

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We have gone to extraordinary lengths to mitigate the concern of farm appearance. The BOBR growth units we propose to use have a much lower visual profile than other gear in common use. The farm will be visible but will be far less noticeable than other farms. Also, TPO chose lease locations that are distant from views and do not go to shore on private lands. Many community members we met with, (and with whom we described our plans in detail),  have offered support, and live within view of the proposed lease sites.

 

Feedback from those who have viewed the BOBR growth units in use since August 2019 confirms they are far less visible than units in common use on other farms.

 

“Suspended versus bottom oyster culture in eastern Canada: Comparing stocking densities and clearance rates” Aquaculture, Luc A.Comeau

 

  • “Finally, as the industry embraces suspended culture, coastal residents and recreational boaters tend to oppose the technique on the basis of visual or leisure amenity values. Others oppose suspended culture on the basis of perceived negative environmental impacts. At first glance, multiple floating structures distributed over large estuarine areas seem disruptive to ecological health. Yet, often overlooked are the positive ecological effects of suspended oyster culture. By making available a 3-dimensional substrate, suspended structures provide  habitat for native  fish and invertebrate species” 

 

Photos below show commonly used growth units vs. BOBR growth units. 

Feedback: Majority of people that live near the farm object to it.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

This claim does not align well with written feedback from those who live in the local area. Eighty seven percent of feedback we received through our 130+ door to door public engagement meetings in the community is supportive of the proposed operation. Many of these respondents live within view of the proposed lease sites.

 

This feedback aligns well with a province-wide government survey that found 85% of residents are supportive of aquaculture development. Furthermore, dozens of area residents who actually visited the nursery wrote supportive comments following their tour.
 

“Opinion Business Management Regulations Shellfish: Thumbs up for shellfish” Aquaculture North America, John Nickum

 

  • “Despite its proven environmental and consumer benefits shellfish farming unfortunately continues to face opposition in the form of protests by shore residents who consider the array of structures used by farmers and the restrictions on uses of near-shore waters to be incompatible with their uses. Any form of animal production that takes place in the “commons” (i.e. publicly owned waters or land) typically faces opposition. Shellfish farming will probably continue to face challenges in some communities because of this NIMBY (Not in my Backyard) mindset. The fact that shellfish farming is ecologically efficient and environmentally beneficial should support its continued development as a part of sustainable food production for our nation and the world.”

 

“Shellfish aquaculture — In praise of sustainable economies and environments” World Aquaculture, Sandra E. Shumway, Chris Davis, Robin Downey, Rick Karney, John Kraeuter, Jayy Parsons, Robert Rheault, Gary Wikfors

 

  • “Unfortunately and quite unfairly, aquaculture has become an all inclusive term, especially when used by special interest and advocacy groups to rail against the perceived impacts of some coastal farmers on the environment. All aquaculture is not created equal and should not be treated as such.”

 

  • “Cultured shellfish are one of the few forms of marine aquaculture to get a solid thumbs up of approval for ecological stewardship from the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Eco-Fish.”

 

  • “Molluscan shellfish aquaculture is, by definition, a ‘green’ industry. Shellfish growers are committed to water quality – quality of their product and quality of the environment”  

Feedback: First Nations engagement

 

TPO’s Response:

 

First Nations engagement is a critical part of the application process. We have accurately followed the regulatory application process laid out by NSDFA in regards to First Nations engagement, and have engaged with local First Nations representatives. One such representative participated in one of the public meetings. We met several times including twice on our property and they have openly shared their feelings both with us directly and publicly at the StFX Public panel Discussion. We continue to interact with this important rights holder group and do not feel it is appropriate to pressure this group to embrace one side or the other of our proposal.

 

In addition to our efforts to directly engage with our local First Nations community, the government, through various departments, also reaches out to First Nations groups with regard to any concerns they may have related to each application.

Feedback: Oyster farm may be sold to “distant” ownership.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

This is a family-owned community-based local business. One of the main reasons the farm proposal has been advanced is to provide an opportunity for the family to be together.  We plan to operate this business, and a significant portion of it is constructed on our property. Sale of the business has not been considered and is not a desired outcome.

Feedback: Oyster farm will lower property values.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We have found no evidence that indicates this outcome in other cases, and no such outcome is expected in this case.

Feedback: TPO is dismissive of concerns, lacks transparency, and operates with secrecy,

and inadequate consultation

 

TPO’s Response:

 

We do not believe that we have been dismissive of concerns, or operated in secrecy. It is disappointing that instead of engaging with us some people have chosen to promote the fallacy that we have been secretive, underhanded, dismissive of concerns, and generally untrustworthy. We have spent a great deal of time and effort providing the community with science, facts, and transparency. We have met with hundreds of local residents and hope to meet with hundreds more. We have provided a website and Facebook Page so community members can easily access information, contact us, book meetings, book tours, make comments, and submit feedback. We have established an arms-length Community Liaison Committee and publicly provided fulsome responses to known concerns.

 

As part of the formal “public engagement” which is required by an applicant, we have met with hundreds of local residents to seek their feedback, answer their questions, and understand any concerns. All of these interactions are documented. This is in addition to the two public meetings held in the summer of 2019. Subsequently, we have continued to reach out to individuals and groups throughout the town and county to inform and seek feedback. In fact, the farm plan has been modified repeatedly in response to feedback from area residents and other stakeholder groups. Furthermore, valuable mitigation measures were developed as a result of suggestions and concerns provided through community feedback. 

 

All those who wish to have their voices heard, share their feedback, or are interested in learning more are encouraged to contact us, visit our property, tour the nursery, participate by applying to the Antigonish Oyster Community Liaison Committee (CLC), or contact the CLC with their concerns or comments. 

 

TPO welcomes your participation and looks forward to meeting you. Alternatively, you can send your comments to the CLC for review and response.  

Feedback: TPO are not responsible stewards

 

TPO’s Response:

 

This claim has no basis and flies in the face of 17 years of generosity, cooperation, and friendly support of all those who live on Town Point. Those who use the Antigonish Boat Club have appreciated Ernie’s volunteer work each spring and fall

to launch and retrieve the dock, occasional road maintenance, construction of washroom facilities, and more. Those who use Seabright Road may appreciate the 17 years of road maintenance Ernie has provided at no charge. The neighbors, some of whom now oppose our oyster plans, may appreciate the numerous favors Ernie willingly carried out… be it providing engineering services at no charge, tilling gardens, doing backhoe work, providing advice on building issues, doing tree removals, etc.

 

These are not the actions of a person who doesn’t care, rather they demonstrate a pattern of behaviour and goodwill consistent with someone who is a good steward. Furthermore, even a casual glance at our property will reveal that it is very well kept, the buildings are thoughtfully designed and well-constructed. The historical aspects of the site have been respected and visitors have always been welcomed…often with an unexpected, and sometimes long-winded, historical tour of the site. These again are not the actions of someone who doesn’t care but rather those of someone who cares a great deal and will be a good steward.

Feedback: Trying to block public access to the harbour.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

This claim is untrue. In fact, we have demonstrated an interest in improving access to the harbour by working with the Antigonish Boat Club each year in an effort to make this facility more useful to the community. We also encourage people to use the harbor whether it be fishing, kayaking, boating, etc. We would be interested in collaborating to build an eco-tourism business that would include kayak farm tours and encourage recreational use of the harbour. We see the

harbour as a beautiful place that is a wonderful resource for the community. 

Feedback: Oyster farm is taking away the right of people to access and

enjoy the harbour.

 

TPO’s Response:

 

The Ivany Report has implored Nova Scotians to realize we must find ways to increase employment opportunities particularly for younger people in coastal and rural communities. This is exactly what our proposal seeks to do. If approved,  the farm would occupy about 2% of the harbour and in so doing change the use of this small portion of the harbour to a “working waterfront”. Through our extensive public engagement activities many people have provided feedback that supports the notion that working waterfronts are of greater interest than ones that support only recreational activities.

 

We believe a reasonable mix of work and play is the path to the greater good. Those who have stated they enjoy encountering aquaculture sites while paddling will be pleased, those who have noted the need for more economic activity will be pleased, those who feel our natural resources must be engaged to benefit all Nova Scotians will be pleased, and those who want to use the harbour for recreational activities will still have 98% of it to enjoy.

Feedback: A corporation should not be permitted to occupy our harbour

 

TPO’s Response:

 

“Town Point Consulting Inc.”, consists of one person: Ernie Porter.  This company to date has had no employees and has served only as a means for Ernie to provide construction-related engineering consulting services to a few long-standing clients from his previous career as a construction engineer.

 

The application process requires the applicant to be incorporated. In our case, the corporate entity named as the applicant is “Town Point Consulting Inc.”, was already in place, as described above, and therefore designated as the applicant, meaning we did not have to set up a new corporation in order to submit an aquaculture application.  Those with experience in the private sector will be aware that a “corporation” is a device which enables an individual or group to most efficiently conduct any enterprise. We are disappointed by the overt suggestions about our “corporate greed” which have been fomented and echoed on social media. Town Point Consulting, operating as Town Point Oysters, is not a large “corporation” it is a small, community-based family business.

Feedback: Crown land right of way and “public beach”

 

TPO’s Response:

 

There is a portion of crown land that crosses our residential property. It is a remnant of lands claimed by the federal government in 1921 as part of the Trans Canada Highway Act. We are the only abutter, and we own property on

three sides of this crown land.

 

In the late 1700s, travelers accessed a rudimentary ferry that crossed the harbour from Ferry Point to Town Point. This was long before motor vehicles were developed so the route onward (on the Town Point side) was most likely only a footpath. Since the early 1800’s there has been no public use of this land. After the town site was abandoned in the early 1800s this land was used for grazing cattle by the owner of the adjacent land and subsequently a spruce tree plantation. We purchased our property from the family that last grazed cattle here.

 

The remnant of this pathway have not been in use and has only become of interest because of opposition to our aquaculture application. The vocal opposition has chosen to exploit this property as a means to discourage us from pursuing our farm plans. Due to misinformation being spread about this subject, it is important for the

community to know that:

 

This land is not “the only public access” to Antigonish harbour. Other public harbour access points are The Antigonish Boat Club, The Landing, Dunn’s Beach, Mahoney’s Beach, and Terra Tory Drive, to mention a few. The third property to the west along Seabright Road is crown land and contains the Antigonish Boat club. It has a public road, clubhouse, toilet facilities, dock, boat ramp, boat storage area, and a beach. It is open to the public and many people use it for fishing from shore, access to the harbour, launching boats, and sundry other purposes. Membership fee is $75. Membership is encouraged but not mandatory. The Antigonish Boat Club is on public crown land. Therefore, members of the public are allowed to use this harbour access without paying the $75 membership fee. However, becoming a member of the boat club is encouraged to help pay for maintenance of the road, dock, beach, and other facilities. We are members and participate annually in maintenance and improvement of these facilities

 

This land has no “public beach” on it nor does it lead to a “public beach". All shoreline below the ordinary high water line is owned by the crown and therefore is accessible by the public. That said, there is no designated “public beach” at Town Point, and very little of the Town Point shoreline is accessible from crown land without actively trespassing across the private property of the riparian landowner. 

 

The shoreline along this part of the harbour is typical to what is expected in a sheltered harbour; generally littered with oyster, clam, and mussel shells, having a  soft muddy bottom below the low water mark. These conditions lead to sinking into the mud, making it far from an ideal beach and swimming spot. Those in the area wishing to go to the beach would surely choose Mahoney’s, Dunn’s, Pomquet, or even the Antigonish Boat Club Beach, which is a shorter trip from town and is fully accessible.

 

In many ways, this crown land has been grossly misrepresented. Predictably, these actions have led to very unfortunate and unwarranted social media demonization of the landowners.

 

The whole issue related to this piece of crown land is ultimately irrelevant to our

application for lease sites on the harbour, or the development of the oyster nursery facility, which is wholly on private land. It has been made a focal point by our opponents for reasons that do not fall within the scope of the application review

process.

 

Responses from the CLC:


 

Feedback: Lease infringes on a “registered “ navigational route.

 

CLC’s Response:

 

It is important for the community to understand how navigable waterways are addressed and protected in Canada. There are scheduled bodies of water that are protected under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act (CNWA). The Navigable Protection Program (NPP) is responsible for administering the CNWA. The NPP is a program of Transport Canada. So, to summarize - Transport Canada has an NPP which administers the CNWA which is responsible for protecting navigation in scheduled bodies of water and all other navigable waters.

 

The entire Atlantic Ocean is a scheduled body of water (link to scheduled bodies of water below). That being said, on Atlantic Tidal Waters every marine dock, bridge, oyster farm, offshore wind farm, or other form of works is on a protected scheduled body of water. These works all have to follow the regulatory process under Transport Canada’s Navigable Protection Program in order to determine if there is or is not interference with navigation, whether any mitigation may be necessary, and whether the works is approved or denied.

 

We encourage community members to read the links below, learn about Transport Canada’s NPP, the CNWA, and Scheduled bodies of water. This will help community members understand how navigable waterways are addressed by the Canadian Government.

 

Navigation Protection Program

Canadian Navigable Waters Act

Scheduled Bodies of Water

 

No “registered” navigable Waterways exist in Antigonish Harbour, or the rest of the Atlantic Ocean. It is not possible to “register” a navigable waterway, but what can be done is to apply to have navigable waters added to the schedule. However, the entire Atlantic Ocean is already scheduled, this includes Antigonish Harbour.

Feedback: CLC is an exclusive group.

 

CLC’s Response:

 

The Antigonish Oyster Community Liaison Committee is currently made up of 10 well-known community leaders who each represent an important stakeholder group.  Committee members individually, and the group collectively, has a unique ability to bring forward valuable feedback from the community and to provide in return factual information about the application process, details of the proposed operation, and science-based knowledge about potential impacts, to their respective stakeholder groups.

 

 Membership on this committee does not imply support for TPO, rather provides a “voice at the table”.

 

The CLC is not an exclusive group, in fact, the CLC has gone to great lengths to be as inclusive as possible.  There were multiple forms of public advertisement to recruit members for the CLC. Physical flyers were posted around town. A local radio ad ran for a week. It was posted on the CLC’s website and Facebook page. All forms of advertisement invited ALL members of the community to apply. 

 

There are still two spots open on the committee, and we welcome further applications.

 

FOAH members were directly invited via the FOAH Facebook page on three occasions This invitation was deleted each time and FOAH refused to share the CLC’s invitation flyer with their Facebook community.

 

The CLC wants all voices heard and encourage participation, whether it be submissions to the committee, attendance at the meetings, or applying to become a CLC member.


 

Feedback: CLC “stands to channel local people’s concerns into a powerless

institution”.

 

CLC’s Response:

 

 The CLC’s purpose is to provide a forum for the exchange of fact and science-based information, as well as to promote open dialogue between TPO and local stakeholder groups, in order that the community as a whole may become accurately informed. Community liaison committees are NOT intended to provide oversight or control, rather they promote dialogue which is valuable to all concerned, and communication which can influence both the proponent's decisions as well as community reaction. 

 

The establishment and operation of the CLC follows the principles of Nova Scotia Environment’s Guide for the Formation and Operation of a Community Liaison Committee. The formation of a CLC it is not a requirement of the application

process, however it is encouraged by NSDFA.

Feedback: How does the CLC engage with the community.

 

CLC’s Response: 

 

The Antigonish Oyster Community Liaison Committee (CLC) is a non-bias credible fact and science-based forum. The establishment and operation of this CLC follows the principles of Nova Scotia Environment's Guide for the Formation and Operation of a Community Liaison Committee. The CLC has a website and Facebook page available to the public. The purpose of the website and FB page are to enable the publication and dissemination of information related to the CLC and to collect feedback submissions from the community. Comments and questions can be directed to the committee through either our website or Facebook messenger.

 

To foster effective and meaningful communications and relations between Town Point Oysters and members of the local community, the CLC follows a community engagement process. This process is described below.

 

  • Collect feedback from the community via the Antigonish Oyster CLC website and Facebook page messenger.

  • Place that feedback on the agenda for review at the next CLC meeting.

  • Feedback will be reviewed by the committee and collectively responded to. If this feedback requires input from TPO, the CLC will allow TPO an opportunity to respond.

  • Publicly post the feedback and responses.

  • When Covid 19 restrictions permit, the CLC will host meetings open to the public.

 

We encourage community members to submit feedback via the process described above. Please be patient, as this is a committee, responses require discussion at the committee wide level so there will often be a delay. Please also read through the full responses document prior to submitting feedback to ensure your feedback has not already been addressed.


For more in-depth elucidation please read our full charter and mandate here.

 

 

Feedback: Why is commenting disabled on CLC Facebook Page.

 

CLC’s Response: 

 

In addition to our website, we have added a Facebook (FB) page in order to reach more community members, as FB is so widely viewed. This FB page is not the forum for discussion; the committee itself is the forum. The purpose of this FB page is only to enable the publication and dissemination of information related to the CLC and to collect feedback submissions from the community. Using Facebook, we are able to reach more people and simplify the process for community members to both access information and submit feedback.

 

Anyone wishing to ask questions or make comments may do so by following the process as outlined above in our “How does the CLC engage with the community” response. Comment sections on FB are problematic for many reasons. The discourse within the committee is respectful and civil, whereas comment sections on FB are often quite the opposite. In the case of the CLC, all incoming communication needs to be considered at the committee wide level.

 

We’ve found that people have used the comments section to ask questions that are already thoroughly addressed on our website or to communicate with the CLC as if it were Town Point Oysters, which it is not. If you are interested in engaging directly with Town Point Oysters we recommend you contact them via their website.

 

As described above, the committee follows a process for community engagement, and community members are encouraged to join in on that process.

 

Please note: This response has been edited from its original version to further clarify why commenting is disabled.

Stay up to date, like us on Facebook!

  • Facebook

©2021 Antigonish Oyster CLC

Back to Top