The second largest salmon farming company in Canada is looking at Mahone Bay and St. Margaret's Bay as potential areas for fish farms.
Cermaq Canada was recently granted two options to lease in the South Shore waters.
"These options will allow us to investigate the potential for salmon farming in the two bays, and we will start collecting data and looking at potential feasibility," says David Kiemele, Managing Director for Cermaq Canada in a press release issued November 7.
"We believe the South Shore region of Nova Scotia could present excellent opportunities for salmon farming due to the sheltered nature of the bays, the depth and water temperatures. As before we are sharing this information very early in the process and need to get on the water and into the communities to better understand the area."
Cermaq Canada's head office is located in Campbell River, B.C. and they are part of Cermaq Global, headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with operations in Norway, Chile and Canada. Cermaq is owned by Mitsubishi, and is part of the organization's Healthy Living branch.
The Mahone Bay option area covers from Pollock Point to New Harbour Point.
According to Vicki Savoie, Cermaq Canada's east coast sustainable development director, the firm will begin feasibility and engagement work in St. Margaret's Bay and Mahone Bay shortly.
The company said it needs enough sites to support some 20,000 metric tonnes of production, which translates into some 15 to 20 farms, which would be spread between the two bays. Cermq would also require two hatcheries, and a processing plant in the region.
The company estimates that it would create more than 300 jobs, and contribute half-a-billion dollars to the local economy.
Within the Mahone Bay and St. Margaret's Bay region, initial meetings will be held with commercial fishing associations, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, municipal government and interested groups and associations. Following that, broad community engagement will be launched. Feasibility work will also begin as as the company starts to collect information regarding potential farming sites.
"Through this work, it would be noted and respected that the waters and shoreline of both Mahone Bay and St. Margaret's Bay are home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, many significant historical buildings and a thriving tourism industry," the company said.
In September, the digital publication The Narwhal reported that at Cermaq's fish pens in B.C. that "regulations require industry keep parasite levels below a certain threshold. During this past spring and early summer three of Cermaq's farms exceeded sea lice levels in violation of federal rules."
The Narwhal also reported: "In an open letter in the Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News Cermaq's managing director, David Kiemele, admitted the company was 'unable to effectively manage sea lice populations for a variety of reasons' during the critical wild salmon migration period from March to June."
It remains to be seen how Cermaq's proposal will be met. Cooke Aquaculture has encountered significant opposition to its plans to try and expand its aquaculture operations in Liverpool Bay.