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Plans to build Canada's largest salmon farm put on ice

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
21 July 2017, at 2:55pm

The largest salmon farming project in Canada’s history has been cast into doubt, after a court ruled that further environmental impact assessments were require before a final decision could be made on the Grieg Seafood scheme.

The ruling followed a challenge the Atlantic Salmon Federation made to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which had released the proposed Placentia Bay aquaculture project from environmental assessment. 

Grieg NL Nurseries and Grieg NL Seafarms, subsidiaries of Norway’s Grieg Seafood, had proposed plans including a new $75 million salmon hatchery and nursery facility in Marystown, which could produce seven million fish annually. These would be stocked out into 11 sea cage sites and produce an annual harvest of 33,000 tonnes. If the plan goes ahead, it would more than double the province's annual production of farmed salmon.

Supreme Court Judge Gillian Butler released a written decision yesterday, finding then Environment Minister Perry Trimper’s July 2016 decision, to allow the project to proceed without a comprehensive review, was unreasonable. 

She concluded “that the minister lacked jurisdiction to release the project.”  Because of significant public concern, and the possibility of damage to wild Atlantic salmon and the environment, Judge Butler found this project “represented an example of an undertaking requiring the highest level of further environmental assessment.”  

“This will be the first environmental assessment of salmon aquaculture in Newfoundland, and perhaps only the second ever in Atlantic Canada,” said Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. “Despite the fact this industry has caused permanent damage to Newfoundland’s environment it has always enjoyed special treatment.” 

“Grieg has claimed their cages would be escape-proof, and that all their fish would be sterile. We know this is not true. Now the company will have to prove what they say, gather baseline data in Placentia Bay, and demonstrate this project would not cause unacceptable and irreversible damage,” Taylor added. 

Grieg will now have to decide to if it wants to continue to pursue its plan to build in the Placentia Bay area.