Port Mouton Bay has supported a vibrant commercial fisheries for decades. Generations of fishermen made a living from lobster fishing within the Bay. Today, there are 40 lobster boats operating in the Port Mouton area. Scallops, rock crab, mackerel, irish moss, whelk, and wild salmon can also be found in the Bay.

Impact of the Existing Fish Farm #835

Since the existing fish farm (near Spectacle Island) started operations in 1995, there have been significant changes in the Bay, especially the inner harbour (Spectacle Island to Broad River area). See map of the affected area.

A formal survey to these document changes, as observed by fishers and mossers, was completed in January 2007. Review the complete fisher survey results.

In May, 2007, “Friends” working with local lobster fishermen completed a detailed lobster catch survey in the Bay. Lobster traps were dropped in five regions in the Bay. Data on catch-per-trap-fishing-day and number of berried female lobster was carefully recorded. Based on analysis of the data, the area near the existing fish farm had considerably lower catch-per-trap-fishing-day and fewer berried lobsters than other regions. In other words, the data confirms our position that the existing fish farm is harming the lobster fishery in the Bay.

See Map - Lobster Catch, Map - Berried Lobster, Full Document: Port Mouton Bay Lobster Trap Survey (PDF)

As a followup to the May 2007 lobster trap report (above), “Friends” obtained lobster catch data from DFO. This data includes catches for Port Mouton and nearby areas of Port L'Hebert/Port Joli and Hunts Point. By examining when and where lobster are caught, this data does show that lobster catches have been negatively impacted by the existing farm. Read the report Have Lobster Catches in Port Mouton Increased in Recent Years? (PDF).

Lobster trap surveys were also conducted in subsequent years, up to 2011. Read the latest report Port Mouton Bay Lobster Trap Survey - covering 2007 to 2011 inclusive. It again demonstrates the continued negative impact of the fish farm near Spectacle Island even though no fish have been actively farmed since July 2009.

On a positive note, the latest 2011 report also documents signs of recovery in the Bay - notably a smaller degraded lobster habitat zone, and some recovery in kelp, eel grass and Irish moss, mackerel, scallops and rock crab.

Changes to the Fishery in Port Mouton Bay

The economic impact on the fishers and mossers include:

The effect of the existing farm, on the inner harbour has been so pronounced, fishers refer to that area as the “dead zone”.

Potential Impact of More Fish Farms

When a second salmon site was proposed for the western side of the Bay, just off Port Mouton Island, the community became gravely concerned. A second, much larger fish farm, would have had an even more profound impact on commercial fisheries. That area of the Bay was an integral (even critcal) part of the Bay's marine ecosystem.

Critical Lobster Habitat

The area of the proposed fish farm is known to be a lobster nursery, moulting and migration area. Interviews of local well-experienced fishers reveal detailed knowledge of lobster life cycle within the Bay. Read the full document (PDF). Fishers report:

Placing a second fish farm in this area, vital to lobster reproduction, would have had devastating consequences for lobster stocks. Critical habitat for lobster MUST be protected from any possible harmful alteration, disruption or destruction.

Herring Roe Fishery

The Little Hope Herring Roe Fishery takes place each year near Port Mouton. Depending on where the herring spawn, the exact location varies. In the fall of 2006, 44 boats actively fished for herring roe near Port Mouton Island and in inner Port Mouton Bay. A Port Mouton fish plant processed the herring. Once again, a fishery with significant economic benefit to the community and beyond, was put at risk by the proposed fish farm. Read our document Herring Roe Fishery at Port Mouton.

Lobster and Other Fishing Activities

Establishing a second fish farm off Port Mouton Island would:

Navigation and Safe Haven

Aquaculture and Fishery - Claims and Counter Claims
Claim Consider
Lobster landings at Port Mouton wharf are up showing no negative impact Landings at the wharf do not reflect where the lobster were actually caught. Remember the cod fishery. Catches are NOT an indication of a stock's health.
Lobsters like fish farms and want to be near them The local fishermen find the opposite to be true.
Waste from fish plants in the Bay has caused the decline to inner harbour fisheries. Fish plants have operated in the Bay for decades with no harm to the fishery. Solid fish waste is removed from the site. The decline in the inner harbour fishery coincides with the timeline of the fish farm operation.
Tides will flush away the waste, so impact on marine life is minor. The existing and proposed sites are “depositional”, that means low currents, and little flushing. See our Environment page for details on Bay currents.

Fishing versus Aquaculture

The commercial fishery has been the backbone of the Port Mouton area for decades. The arrival of the newcomer, aquaculture, has had a significant negative impact on the commercial fishery.

We contend that fish farming in that area of the bay, represented a real threat to lobster reproduction. The potential environmental and economic consequences would have been wide-spread. Economic development should not come at the expense of an existing viable industry.

Port Mouton Wharf

View of Port Mouton wharf

(Photo: Blair Davis)