After a trip to Ottawa to consult with the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change, Ron Heighton and other local fishermen are still adamant “there will be no pipeline in the Northumberland Strait.”
In the ongoing dispute between Northern Pulp and fishermen in the Northumberland Region, members of the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association have sought the input of federal experts on the contentious matter of a proposed replacement effluent treatment facility.
Heighton, the president of the association, said staff members with the federal department said they want to see a formal proposal before they could offer any comment – one he intends to provide.
Staff gave Heighton some suggestions on things he and association members could do to prepare a proposal, “and we told them we’d be back,” said Heighton.
“They gave us some very good suggestions – ones we plan to go through with,” he said.
Heighton declined to go into further detail on those suggestions, and said, “we’re not going to tell the enemy what we’re going to say or do next. There seems to be a wedge between the two industries – and there’s no need of that whatsoever.”
The next step, Heighton said, is to see what Northern Pulp will do. He maintained that if the company continues to propose an effluent pipeline going into the strait, he and the rest of the association will continue to actively oppose it.
While in Ottawa, Heighton said he met several MPs from Atlantic Canada, who are aware of what’s going on, and supportive. He noted that they realize the issue of the proposed treatment facility and pipeline “is pitting industries against one another.”
Heighton said he was impressed with the amount support he found in Ottawa, with fishermen from all over Canada showing their solidarity, but “the provincial government has to step up to the plate here, and do something.
“It is, in fact, (Nova Scotia’s) jurisdiction – and they should be trying to do something to mediate this,” said Heighton. “This problem can be solved. We’re confident it can be.”
Heighton reiterated that the Northumberland Fishermen’s Association is willing to work and collaborate with Northern Pulp in the design of a new effluent treatment facility, and stressed the necessity of “using our expertise on the water,” to inform the design of the new facility.
“We can help them design something we can both live with. There will be no pipe, but we can help them design whatever is needed,” said Heighton. “We’re not here to put people out of business, but we’re not willing to lose our business.
“Our livelihood is the water – we sell fish, and promote it as coming from pristine Atlantic waters. Those waters don’t include effluent in them.”