Sheet Harbor whale sanctuary meeting heats up as opponents list concerns


SHEET HARBOR, NS – Residents of the Sheet Harbor community gathered Monday evening to discuss a possible whale sanctuary off its coast.

While the project has support, it also has opposition. Monday’s meeting was stormy and it is unclear whether any progress has been made.

Shrine project officials said they don’t plan to make a decision right away, but they hope to do so soon.

The next step, if they go ahead with the Mushaboom site, would be to apply to the province and then start building. If that happens, there could be beluga whales in the water off the east coast by 2021.

A beluga sanctuary in Sheet Harbor would provide a new home for marine theme park whales.

Those who support the project say that there are many benefits, such as jobs.

“People who handle boats, people who handle nets and clean nets,” said Charles Vinick, executive director of the whale sanctuary project. “I hope the off-season fishermen can be temporary part-time employees of the sanctuary to help us with security, help us with marine operations.”

Stephen Mildenberger believes the project will have “negligible impact on the fishing industry”.

“Certainly it wouldn’t pollute the waters, it wouldn’t scare away the lobsters like we mean it, it wouldn’t affect the fishery at all,” Mildenberger said.

The proposed site is located just south of Mushaboom, between Malagash Island and the Gibbs Islands, what locals call “The Gates”.

“It’s well protected from extreme weather conditions,” Vinick said. “It’s deep and there is current. It has a good flow.”

But that’s why boaters and anglers also love “The Gates”.

They use it as a travel itinerary and don’t want the whales to settle there.

“If they want to put the whales somewhere in the Sheet Harbor area, no problem,” said Gary Verge, a resident. “But put it in a place where it won’t have such a big impact on our passage.”

The committee said they looked at over 120 possible sites and found The Gates to offer some of the best deal.

Now they hope they can come up with compromises that will get everyone on board.

“We heard them,” said Lori Marino, chair of the whale sanctuary project. “We are responding to the best of our ability, we are not firing them, and we hope they will join the rest of the community, which is the overwhelming majority who want to have something that would be unique in everyone here.”

But whether enough people will agree is up for debate.

“They have support, I will say that, but not the majority,” Verge said.

The shrine would cost around $ 20 million, which the committee says it will fundraise.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.


Leave A Reply