Legal win for NGO sets back Grieg Newfoundland salmon farm project


Legal win for NGO sets back Grieg Newfoundland salmon farm project

By Jeanine Stewart and Ola Wietecha Jul 20, 2017 21:41 BST

Canadian NGO the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) has succeeded in its attempt to require the government of Newfoundland to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on Grieg NL's sizable aquaculture project proposal in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

A judge ruling released late on Thursday upholds the appeal ASF and private citizen Owen Myers filed with the Newfoundland supreme court, which contested the provincial minister of environment's decision to allow Grieg NL to move forward without completing an EIS. Grieg NL is owned by Norway's Grieg Group, also the main shareholder in Grieg Seafood.

"That's good news, critically because the public had expressed significant concerns for the environmental assessment process," Don Ivany, director of programs for the ASF in Newfoundland and Labrador, told Undercurrent News.

ASF was not successful on winning the judge over on all points, however, ASF director of communications Neville Crabbe told Undercurrent. The judge did not uphold ASF's contention that the project description should fully describe the project, from egg to market, he said.

ASF and Myer were notified of the judge's decision late Thursday. Grieg NL was not reachable for comment by Undercurrent as of publication time.

Grieg NL's project proposal includes a CAD 75 million hatchery and nursery facility, to produce seven million fish annually and stock 11 sea cages, ultimately producing 33,000 metric tons of salmon a year, according to CBC News. This would more than double the Canadian province's annual production of farmed salmon, the newspaper said.

The significance of the decision could extend even beyond this massive project. Crabbe said he hopes it sets a precedent for projects to come.

"This will be a first time in the history of Newfoundland -- and only the second instance that we know of in all of Atlantic Canada -- where a salmon aquaculture project would have to go through the full scrutiny of an environmental assessment," Crabbe said. "The industry has largely had a pass."
Norwegian plans in Canada

Grieg Group -- which is owned by the Grieg family and headed up by Per Grieg Jr -- first announced the plans for the Newfoundland expansion in October 2015.

According to a statement sent at the time, Grieg said it would partner with Canadian wild catch harvester Ocean Choice International (OCI) on the project, with OCI handling the processing side.

Grieg said the project could cost approximately CAD 250m.

The hatchery will have a capacity of 7m smolt a year and should be completed in 2017, said the companies in separate press releases.

Contact the reporters jeanine.stewart@undercurrentnews.com, ola.wietecha@undercurrentnews.com