Group eyeing seaside beluga whale refuge hosts information meeting Friday in Liverpool

by Keith Corcoran

Liverpool on Friday will host one of the public information meetings organized by an international non-profit group seeking 40-hectares of shoreline for a beluga whale refuge.

The community information meeting takes place in the Gorham Room at the Astor Theatre, off Main Street. The session begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 1.

"There would be economic benefits including the creation of an education centre, an on-going need to purchase tons of frozen fish to feed the whales, as well as full and part-time jobs to be filled by local residents," Charles Vinick, executive director of the Whale Sanctuary Project, said in a statement released Tuesday.

"Beyond these benefits, a community can take pride in the good they are doing for these whales."

The Whale Sanctuary Project is holding five public meetings over the next week or so in an attempt to identify Nova Scotia communities interested in becoming a seaside place of safety for beluga whales retired from entertainment facilities or which may be hurt and in need of a netted-off rehabilitation area.

The federal government is expected to legislate a ban on keeping any more whales and dolphins at entertainment facilities, "and a seaside sanctuary will provide the space and autonomy the whales need in order to thrive," reads the statement.

"We realize that people have questions and concerns about such a novel project," Vinick said in the release. "Some will be interested in potential environmental impacts. And local fishers will want to be assured that their livelihoods are preserved. We share these concerns and we want to work with everyone to figure out whether a sanctuary is a good fit for your community."

To learn more about the group, log on to: https://whalesanctuary.org/our-work/ on the internet.

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