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Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy Calls For Public Objections to Rockweed Harvesting Proposal



Update, 5 p.m, Dec. 6, 2023: This story has been updated to include a response from Scotia Garden Seafood Inc.

The Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy (KCC) is calling for immediate public action in response to a proposed 15-year lease for rockweed harvesting along the Lunenburg County coastline. 

They are asking Nova Scotians to write by the end of this Wednesday, December 6, to the Fisheries Minister with formal objections – this is the deadline to object, following seven days from the publication of a notice of intent for the proposal.

Scotia Garden Seafood Inc. of Yarmouth has announced their intention to make an application to the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to harvest rockweed for a period of 15 years along the shore from East Point Island to Gaff Point.

Specifically, the harvesting could take place: “All that area of foreshore, including islands and ledges, on the coastline of Lunenburg County starting on East Point Island at a point 64 12’04” West, 4420’10” North; thence by various ways and means in a westerly direction along the coastline to Gaff Point at 6417’18” West; 4414’30” North.”

The notice of intent for Scotia Garden Seafood’s proposal was published as an advertisement in the November 29, 2023 issue of the LighthouseNow newspaper and in Nova Scotia’s Royal Gazette, following the application process outlining requirements for these notices.

(Photo: contributed)

Conservation group highlights environmental concerns, tight turnaround for formal objection

In a newsletter message, the KCC – a conservation association focused on Lunenburg County’s Kingsburg Peninsula – outline their objection to the application:

“KCC feels that the posting of this application in a local newspaper, with a 7-day deadline, is inadequate as a public consultation and is urging for a proper consultation process. 

There are a number of critical questions and issues that have been raised from this, including but not limited to:

– Rockweed provides an, essentially, underwater forest that is habitat in which thirty-four species of fish, thirteen kinds of birds, and one hundred taxa of invertebrates have been observed, some grazing on it, and others utilizing the canopy for protection from predators.

– The entire thallus of this perennial seaweed can survive for up to 120 years, while individual fronds can persist for up to 20 years.

– We now know that seaweeds are powerhouse carbon sequesters. What impact will the continued harvesting of this species have on Nova Scotia’s ability to sequester carbon as we move further into the age of climate change?

– Although it is commonly thought that rockweed harvesting is practiced by a series of small-scaled fishers. In fact, 1 company holds 14 of the 22 leases available in Nova Scotia, totalling 327, 728 ha. The remaining leases, totaling 155, 748 ha are held by 2 other companies and 1 individual.

– There is a lack of understanding of what the actual regrowth rate is for rockweed. Annual landings have been steadily increasing over the years, and unlike commercial wild-catch-fin-fisheries, there are no government observers stationed on small harvesting boats or at docks to ensure sustainable harvesting and conservation measures are taking place. In short, there is a generalized lack of oversight and the industry is monitored by itself.

– The growing prevalence of an invasive species of brown alga (Fucuc Serratus) newly present in Nova Scotia’s South Shore, is threatening to replace rockweed. Should we be continuing to deplete this species while it is already being outcompeted?

These are just a few questions and observations we have. A typical harvesting lease is issued for 2-4 years and can be extended after that. We feel it is vitally important to further consult with the public and communities that could be impacted before issuing a 15-year harvesting lease.”

See their full release below.

Scotia Garden Seafood responds to letter

The Barnacle reached out to Scotia Garden Seafood for a response to KCC’s letter on December 6.

Their response, highlighting their preparation for their application and their reasoning for a 15-year lease, is below.

Proposal date is unclear

It is possible the notice of application published on Nov. 29 has a typographical error regarding when the application will actually occur.

The notice of application, as it was published on Nov. 29, says that the formal application will happen on Nov. 23, which was a week before the notice was published:

“Take notice that Scotia Garden Seafood Inc. of Yarmouth, in the County of Yarmouth, will make application to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Minister’s office in Shelburne, Province of Nova Scotia, on November 23, 2023, for a lease 6047 to harvest rockweed for a period of 15 years from the date hereof in the following described area: […]”

The application process for a rockweed harvesting lease says a Notice of Application containing the upcoming date of the actual application shall be published “The notice shall be published “in a newspaper having a general circulation in the county or counties to which the area is contiguous, and in the Royal Gazette, not less than 10 days before the date of application.”

This would mean the soonest date for a formal application would be 10 days after the notice was published on Nov. 29, which is Dec. 9.

It is unclear whether this could possibly affect the application process. The Barnacle has reached out to the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for comment.

How does the objection process work?

The application process for a rockweed harvesting lease says, regarding any objections received by the Fisheries Minister within seven days of a notice of application: “If any objection to the issuance of a lease is received, the Minister may hold a public hearing at a time and place determined by the Minister, and shall notify the applicant and the person or persons who have given notice under #4 (above) of the time and place of the hearing.”


Comments

4 responses to “Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy Calls For Public Objections to Rockweed Harvesting Proposal”

  1. Jenny Burwell

    thank you.

  2. Alison F Strachan

    Thank you, Jesse. The Maine Island Institute in Rockport is in the process of gathering data on the importance of Rockweed and its current benchmark. We need to do this here before, IMO, harvesting licenses can be granted for such an extraordinarily long period. That story is here: https://www.islandinstitute.org/working-waterfront/sharing-the-weight-of-rockweed-science/

    On another note, is an extra-provincial Federal Incorporation. Objections should also be made to the Federal Department of Fisheries. Currently, that Minister is Diane Lebouthillier
    200 Kent St
    Station 15N100
    Ottawa ON K1A 0E6

    If anyone would like more information on how to go about organizing a Rockweed benchmark in Nova Scotia, or who to contact about the Island Institute’s initiative, I would be glad to help as I have a close connection to that organization.

    My objection has been submitted.

  3. Alison F Strachan

    Thought I’d leave another link for folks interested in following up with a Community Observation group. These people are amazing.

    https://schoodicinstitute.org/science/marine-ecology-research/latest-projects/project-asco-assessing-seaweed-via-community-observations/

  4. […] application in progress by Scotia Garden Seafood Inc. to renew an existing lease for rockweed harves… is invalid and must be restarted as a result of an error in their public notice, reopening a period […]

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