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Marineland Canada says site for planned whale refuge in Nova Scotia is too polluted

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A plan in Nova Scotia to construct North America’s first coastal refuge for whales previously stored in marine parks has come below fireplace from Marineland Canada.

The marine park in Niagara Falls, Ont. — the one venue in Canada that has captive whales — launched a examine this week alleging the proposed web site for the Whale Sanctuary Challenge is just too polluted.

Citing provincial research, Marineland mentioned the positioning in a bay close to Port Hilford, N.S., has been contaminated by two poisonous tailings dumps left behind by gold mines that operated between 1860 and 1939 within the historic Wine Harbour Gold District.

“Large volumes of arsenic and mercury had been dumped into open mine tailings for many years all through the district … [and] the security and stability of the 2 tailings dumps websites are usually not recognized, however it’s believed they don’t meet any trendy environmental commonplace,” the examine says.

“Intensive, unbiased scientific research in and across the proposed web site … display harmful poisonous ranges of arsenic and mercury within the space of the proposed sanctuary … on land and in bivalve shellfish within the water.”

Proponent finding out water, sediment

Charles Vinick, government director of the non-profit sanctuary undertaking, challenged the allegations Tuesday, saying his group is conscious of the mines and is finding out the water and the sediment within the bay.

“In our research up to now, we have discovered little or no ranges of arsenic,” he mentioned in an interview from California. He confirmed that some arsenic was present in a close-by freshwater pond, however not within the saltwater bay the place the whales would reside.

“If we discover that there are poisonous ranges of any chemical — arsenic and mercury included — then we must do mitigation or not proceed,” he mentioned. “We would not be capable to get a allow for this web site if it can’t be demonstrated that it is secure for the animals to be there.”

Marineland’s examine additionally factors to orders from the federal Fisheries Division which have for years closed the realm to fishing for shellfish, together with oysters, clams and mussels. An order from 2019 says mollusks within the space comprise toxins and are usually not secure for consumption.

Charles Vinick is the chief director of the Whale Sanctuary Challenge. (CBC)

“Opposition by the general public to this web site seems to be low as a result of the positioning is in any other case ineffective due to its polluted state and the unremediated poisonous tailing dump web site on or adjoining to the positioning,” says the examine, which lists Marineland of Canada Inc. because the writer.

“The failure by the [Whale Sanctuary Project] to reveal apparent, critical and harmful ranges of contamination and air pollution on the proposed web site is alarming and deceptive to the general public, media and authorities.”

Vinick mentioned it has disclosed every little thing it has discovered to federal and provincial authorities. As for the fishing ban, which does not apply to lobsters, Vinick mentioned it was based mostly on information the federal government collected in 2012. That is why the Whale Sanctuary undertaking is conducting its personal evaluation, the outcomes of which will probably be turned over to the federal and provincial governments as they determine on the group’s allow functions.

The Fisheries Division didn’t reply Tuesday to a request for extra details about its prohibition orders.

Sanctuary requested whales from Marineland

On Monday, Marineland mentioned it had obtained a request from the Whale Sanctuary Challenge for the park’s lone killer whale, Kiska, and as much as eight beluga whales to reside on the refuge. The whale sanctuary is slated to open in early 2023, however Vinick admitted Tuesday that deadline will probably be powerful to satisfy.

In the meantime, Marineland was recently charged with allegedly utilizing dolphins and whales for leisure functions, which is against the law below federal anti-captivity laws adopted in 2019. Marineland of Canada Inc. has denied the allegations, saying its dolphins and whales are a part of an academic presentation designed by consultants.

Vinick mentioned the report on the refuge undertaking in Nova Scotia was launched Monday to supply a distraction for Marineland.

WATCH | Marineland whistleblower posts video of Kiska the orca: 

Animal group involved about Kiska the orca at Marineland

A video posted by Phil Demers, a former coach on the Niagara Falls aquarium turned whistleblower, seems to point out Kiska the orca floating listlessly and transferring slowly. 0:36

In October, the Whale Sanctuary Challenge formally opened its customer and operations centre in Sherbrooke, N.S., marking the primary time the U.S.-based conservation group has moved from the planning section to really constructing one thing.

The proposed 40-hectare sanctuary — to be enclosed by massive underwater nets — is anticipated to be as massive as 50 Canadian soccer fields and about 300 occasions bigger than the largest tank in any marine park. The enclosure will probably be designed to accommodate as much as eight beluga whales, which may’t be returned to the open ocean due to their lack of survival expertise.

A capital marketing campaign has been began to boost $20 million for the undertaking, which additionally requires the development of a veterinary clinic and interpretation centre close to the refuge. One other $2 million can be wanted yearly for operations. Vinick mentioned fundraising has fallen behind due to the pandemic.

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