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Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) & the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA)




About the Case

In June 2012, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. began operating an Atlantic Salmon farm in the waters of Port Wade, within 200 meters of Ron Neufeld and Kathaleen Milan’s backyard. Ron and Kathaleen noticed that the company had placed anchors for its salmon cages outside the boundaries of its lease. Later they witnessed the distribution of medicated feed and observed some of the medicated feed falling outside the parameters of the pen. They also witnessed broken feed lines blowing medicated feed outside the cages.

In January 2014 and in February and March 2015, mass mortalities occurred at the lease near Ron and Kathaleen’s property and at other leases near Shelburne. Ron and Kathaleen witnessed bloody water and offal being discharged back into Shelburne Harbour and Jordan Bay from two seine boats that were used to collect the dead fish. Later they observed fish pieces and a substance resembling lard coating areas of the salt marsh and the rocks along the shore.

As these events unfolded, Ron and Kathaleen made five Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) applications to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) requesting information about Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.’s lease and operations. Very little of that requested information was released.

Nova Scotia’s FOIPOP legislation exists “to ensure that public bodies are fully accountable to the public.” Subject to certain restrictions and exemptions, its mandate is to “facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation” and “ensure fairness in government decision-making.”

Ron and Kathaleen requested that Catherine Tully, Nova Scotia’s Privacy Commissioner, review the decision by the Department not to release the requested information. In April 2017, Catherine Tully released a report recommending that all of the information requested by Ron and Kathaleen be disclosed.

The DFA decided not to follow Ms. Tully’s recommendations. In June 2017, Ron and Kathaleen initiated an appeal of that decision in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

About Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. and the Salmon Farming Industry

Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. is the only aquaculture company currently known to be operating in Nova Scotia. It is a subsidiary of New Brunswick based Cooke Aquaculture, the same aquaculture company whose operations were banned by the State of Washington in March of 2018 due to lax environmental practices, negligence, operating outside of its leased areas and improper maintenance to company infrastructure . Cooke Aquaculture is the fifth largest industrial salmon farming company in the world.

Cooke Aquaculture has monopolized virtually all aspects of the aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada and Maine, including farming, packaging, and distribution. It is assumed that the bulk of provincial government funding that is allocated to the aquaculture industry is dispensed to Cooke Aquaculture.

Relevant Reports

REVISED REVIEW REPORT 17-03 DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES & AQUACULTURE

In her April 2017 report, Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully reviewed the documents requested by Ron and Kathaleen in their five FOIPOP applications to determine if there was merit to the claim by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture that the requested information was sensitive and commercial third party information. The requests were reviewed together under one investigation because they were related.

The report concluded that Kelly Cove failed to establish that their veterinary and lab reports were supplied in confidence. The report listed a number of recommendations, including that all information requested by Ron and Kathaleen be released and that changes to the freedom of information law were required. The amendments that Ms. Tully proposed would grant the Privacy Commissioner the power to intervene in court cases to defend a decision in order to ensure better government compliance, public accountability and transparency.

Another recommendation was made to give the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner the legal authority to require the release of information, rather than simply making recommendations to the corresponding government department to release information. The recommendations made in Ms. Tully’s report have been largely ignored.

Click here to read media coverage of the Report

Click here to read the Full Report

A NEW REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR LOW IMPACT/HIGH VALUE AQUACULTURE IN NOVA SCOTIA: THE FINAL REPORT OF THE INDEPENDANT AQUACULTURE REGULATORY REVIEW FOR NOVA SCOTIA

In 2014, The Final Report of the Independent Aquaculture Regulatory Review for Nova Scotia was released by Meinhard Doelle and William Lahey. The report concluded that a reestablishment of the aquaculture industry’s foundational regulations is necessary in order to address the Report’s reasonable concerns. The Doelle-Lahey Report identified the need for high value/ low impact on economic prosperity and environmental wellbeing. The Report also recommended that more incentives be implemented to encourage aquaculture operations to cultivate a working relationship with nearby communities. In order to address the need for greater transparency and the current disregard by aquaculture operations for valuing social license, the Report stated, "We recommend that members of the public be provided with an opportunity set out in legislation to apply to have a lease revoked where there is clear evidence of biophysical unsuitability of the site, or where there is a clear pattern of substantial non-compliance with terms and conditions of the licence... Regulations and licence requirements must be enforced. Penalties must be significant to act as a deterrent. Ongoing lack of compliance should be associated with lease termination." 

The Report also asserted that the current regulatory framework for aquaculture is extremely discrete and provides inadequate transparency throughout the regulatory process. The very regulatory process that manages aquaculture as it is practiced needs to be revised to address these failures to disclose information to the public. The Report suggested that the roles and decision making responsibilities of the DFA need to be firmly delineated between those promoting industry growth and those employed to improve the regulatory process governing the industry. Transfer of the responsibility to monitor changes through the Environmental Monitoring Program from the DFA to the Department of Environment was recommended in order to discourage biased action by decision makers of the industry.

Click here to read the Report Summary

Click here to read the Full Report

2018 SPRING REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF THE ENVIRONMENT AN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TO THE PARLIAMENT OF CANADA. REPORT 1- SALMON FARMING

In April 2018, Julie Gelfand, Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, produced a new report on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and aquaculture. The Report’s findings reinforce many of Kathaleen and Ron’s concerns toward aquaculture activities. The Report concluded that there are no current national standards for nets and other equipment to prevent escapes, nor are there limitations on the drugs or pesticides that fish farms are able to administer to treat diseases such as sea lice. The Report also underscored that the DFO has neglected to complete risk assessments for key known diseases and is not actively working to address new and emerging diseases. Not only is the DFO inadequately enforcing regulations to minimize the impact of aquaculture of wild fish, but the DFO is not monitoring the health of wild fish.

Ms. Gelfand also noted that DFO funding allocated to research related to fish farms was much greater than financial contributions to research efforts to monitor fish farm impacts, and she stated: “The department is at risk for being seen to be promoting aquaculture over the protection of wild fish.”

Click here to read the Report Summary

Click here to read the Full Report

ADDITIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE ON COOKE AQUACULTURE'S PRESENCE IN WASHINGTON STATE

Click here for the Chronicle Herald's article, "Cooke Aquaculture found negligent in Washington state, lease cancelled"

Click here for the Chronicle Herald's article, "Washington Legislature phases out Atlantic salmon farming with bill targetted at Cooke Aquaculture"

ADDITIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE ON GOVERNMENT LOANS AND DEBT FORGIVENESS HISTORY FOR COOKE AQUACULTURE IN NOVA SCOTIA

Click here for the CBC's article, "How funding university research could mean less debt for Cooke Aquaculture"

 SUPPORTIVE ECELAW REPORTS ON AQUACULTURE 

Analysis of Nova Scotia's New Aquaculture Regulatory FrameworkAnalysis of Nova Scotia's New Aquaculture Regulatory Framework

Aquaculture Regulation in Nova Scotia: Overview of the Regulatory Framework and Considerations for Regulatory Reform

Comparative Analysis of Aquaculture Regulatory Frameworks in Maine and Nova Scotia

Comparative Analysis of Five Aquaculture Regulatory Frameworks in Canada

A HISTORY OF KELLY COVE OPERATIONS AS DOCUMENTED BY KATHALEEN MILAN AND RON NEUFELD

Click here for Kathaleen and Ron's youtibe video that documents the multi-day removal of an estimated 80+ tonnes of dead salmon from the cages at Port Wade which was reportedly was caused by the cold.

Click here for Kathaleen and Ron's youtube video of the blood water and decomposing fish being pumped through a seiner at McNutts Island on March 5, 2015.

 Click here for Kathaleen and Ron's youtube video which documents what washed ashore on March 11, 2015. 

 

 

 

 

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