For Immediate Release
July 21, 2017
Court orders assessment of massive NL aquaculture project
Judge finds minister had no right to give company pass on review
ST. ANDREWS - The Atlantic Salmon Federation has successfully challenged a decision by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that released the proposed Placentia Bay aquaculture project from environmental assessment.
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.”
The proposed Placentia Bay development would be the largest salmon aquaculture project in Canadian history. Because of significant public concern, and the likelihood of serious damage to wild Atlantic salmon and other species and the environment, Judge Butler found this project “represented an example of an undertaking requiring the highest level of further environmental assessment.”
As a result, the court quashed the minister’s original decision and has ordered the company to complete an environmental impact statement.
“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.”
For example, 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.
The court has also awarded partial costs to the Atlantic Salmon Federation. ASF was represented by McInnes Cooper lawyers Michael Crosbie and Alex Templeton. A copy of the judgement is available at www.asf.ca
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For more information please contact:
Tom Moffatt – ASF Communications and Education
(506) 469-1033 (cell)