Grieg NL Seafarms intends to set up salmon farming cages in Placentia Bay, southeast of Newfoundland. (Image: Grieg NL)
Court orders environment assessment of Grieg's aquaculture project
Friday, July 21, 2017, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has managed to have the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to release Placentia Bay aquaculture project from environmental assessment quashed by the court.
Supreme Court Judge Gillian Butler released a written decision finding the then Environment Minister Perry Trimper’s July 2016 decision was unreasonable and concluded “that the minister lacked jurisdiction to release the project.”
Because of significant public concern, and the likelihood of serious damage to wild Atlantic salmon and other species and the environment, Judge Butler found Grieg NL Seafarms 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 ASF. “Despite the fact this industry has caused permanent damage to Newfoundland’s environment it has always enjoyed special treatment.”
ASF recalls that a 2016 study by Fisheries and Oceans Canada found 17 of 18 rivers sampled on Newfoundland’s south coast, home to the existing salmon aquaculture industry, showed signs of hybridization, where escaped farmed salmon had bred with wild populations. This results in compromised offspring and is a reason for collapsing wild salmon stocks in the area.
Grieg NL Nurseries and Grieg NL Seafarms, subsidiaries of Norway’s Grieg Seafood, have proposed to raise 7 million European-strain Atlantic salmon annually and place them in open net-pens in Placentia Bay. The area has no existing aquaculture, is recognized as an Ecologically and Biologically Sensitive Area by the Canadian government, and has at least 19 wild Atlantic salmon rivers.
“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,” said Bill Taylor.
Grieg will now have to decide if it wants to continue to pursue its plan to build in the Placentia Bay area.
For his part, the federation spokesperson Neville Crabbe said if it does, the salmon federation expects to participate in the environmental assessment process.
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