As a plaintiff along with my brother Carl in Ross v. Acadian Seaplants Ltd., which declared rockweed the property of the adjacent landowner, I’d like to tell the readers what we had in mind.
Most of us have heard the story that this is a case of rich people from away killing a much-needed coastal industry and putting local people out of work. As I see it, that story is pretty much the opposite of the truth. My brother and I have been residents and/or shorefront owners for about 80 years, and our Cobscook property goes back to 1900. For generations wrinklers and clammers have been welcomed. We were not commercial fishermen, but we know what it means to earn a living.
We regard the case decision as a win for fishermen, wildlife and landowners. Rockweed is key habitat at the base of the coastal marine food chain, feeding and sheltering over 100 organisms including cod, pollock, lobsters, scallops, eiders, herons and shorebirds. If it is cut in large amounts, fish and wildlife will become more scarce. Nova Scotian intertidal has been cut over and over, turning it into a rockweed farm.
For commercial fishing jobs, the first necessity is to keep the environment healthy. We’ve done a poor job of that in my lifetime as most any old-timer can testify. Tearing out the base of the coastal food web and selling it for fertilizer is one of the worst examples.
It’s about time we started treating the coast like something important and fragile, which it is. Protecting rockweed will produce more fishing jobs, more wildlife, more tourism and more satisfied landowners.