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Prince County P.E.I. fishermen assured effluent plans being opposed

A transport truck unloads a shipment of wood chips at Northern Pulp, near Pictou, N.S., in January 2009. - New Glasgow News

O’LEARY, P.E.I. - It is 326 kilometres away, by road, but a pulp mill in Pictou County, N.S., figured prominently in the Prince County Fishermen’s Association’s recent annual meeting at the O’Leary Legion.

The president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association, Bobby Jenkins, and then P.E.I. Minister of Fisheries Alan McIsaac made it clear they are adamantly opposed to Northern Pulp pumping effluent from its mill into Northumberland Strait.

All members of the Prince County Fishermen’s Association fish in the Northumberland Strait.

The mill has until the end of January 2020 to meet a government-imposed deadline of closing its current treatment facility at Boat Harbour, N.S., and having a new facility ready to handle the mill’s effluent.

The mill is proposing discharging treated effluent into the Northumberland Strait.

“Our stand is no pipe in the strait,” PEIFA president Jenkins told the Prince County meeting.

He said that position has been communicated to the consulting firm hired by Northern Pulp to carry out an environmental assessment.

Jenkins said the association appreciates the backing the P.E.I. government has given the Island’s fishing industry on this issue.

PEIFA staff member Melanie Giffin said the plant could pump between 65 and 90 million litres of water per day into the strait.

“Won’t that be good for the spawn,” a fisherman in the audience derided.

Giffin said the PEIFA has asked the consulting firm when it plans to conduct its lobster larvae study, considering the assessment plan is expected in July before lobster larvae is present.

“We are very clear in stating to the media or governments or whatever, this is not an issue of the fishing community against the mill workers,” PEIFA managing director Ian MacPherson commented. “We want that mill to continue operating, but, to put a 36-inch pipe in the middle of the strait that’s, basically, pumping out warmed freshwater or treated freshwater, is not acceptable to the fishermen of P.E.I. or Nova Scotia.

McIsaac said Nova Scotia fishermen have written to him with their concerns. He has sent off letters of concern, on behalf of the P.E.I. fishing industry, to government counterparts in Nova Scotia and to the federal fisheries and environment ministers.

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