Cermaq Canada is hoping to expand operations in Nova Scotia. Image: Cermaq Canada

Rough reception for Cermaq's expansion plans

Fishers in St Mary’s Bay in Digby County, Nova Scotia have given a hostile reception to the possibility of Cermaq Canada expanding its Atlantic salmon farming operations into the province.

Published Last updated

As previously reported, Cermaq has been awarded two additional Options to Lease, one encompassing the waters of Green Bay, Lunenburg Bay and the waters of Mahone Bay and one in St Margaret’s Bay. “We are moving forward with our site feasibility and public engagement,” said Cermaq in its January 2020 newsletter.

Cermaq, owned by Japanese corporation Mitsubishi, hosted a public meeting on January 15 in Digby County. However, some residents of St Mary’s Bay had a clear message.

"It's just a no-brainer. No, we don't want fish farms here," said Ritchie Crocker, a lobster, crab and mackerel fisherman. He told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that he is worried about open net pen salmon farms being operated in the bay.


Digby County is one of the five locations that is being considered by Cermaq. Crocker has been fishing in the waters of St Mary’s Bay for 24 years. “It will ruin the bay, and the pesticides they use to treat the diseases... it is not a good situation for St Mary’s Bay. There are salmon cages in some other locations.” He added that the pollution under those cages is a “cesspool of slime”.

During the meeting locals voiced concerns that fish farms could cause job losses for lobster fishery workers, clammers and seaweed harvesters. Fish escapes were also a concern, as well as the potential of build-up of waste on the seabed. Some also fear the impact to tourism in the area.

The municipality will need to vote before Cermaq can move forward with a building plan, and residents are urging local councillors to vote against Cermaq’s proposal.


“As we move forward we will continue to host meetings in communities throughout the options areas to ensure that Nova Scotians throughout the region have the chance to attend engagement sessions,” Cermaq said in its newsletter.

“We will also be participating in the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister’s Conference 2020 in Halifax from February 25 to 27. During that time we hope to meet with commercial fishermen, associations and other industry representatives.”

Cermaq is planning on speaking with all communities that will be included in the potential business expansion.