Grieg Newfoundland aquaculture project not threatened by Supreme Court ruling, company says

A ruling by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador requiring further environmental assessment of the Grieg Group’s proposed salmon farm in Placentia Bay is not expected to affect the project, the company said in a statement emailed to SeafoodSource and other media outlets on Sunday, 23 July.

Canada’s Supreme Court found that Newfoundland and Labrador’s former minister of environment and conservation, Perry Trimper, did not have jurisdiction to approve the project without an environmental impact statement (EIS). However, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador will likely challenge the ruling and Grieg does not expect it to be a hindrance to development, it said.

“We understand that the province is contesting the verdict strongly, and will most probably appeal the court ruling. After consulting with our legal team, we consider the court ruling to be of low risk to our project, and will continue business as usual,” a statement released by Grieg Chairman Per Grieg Jr. and Grieg General Manager Knut Skeidsvoll said. “We are already assured by both federal and provincial governments that our project has strong public support and public interest by creating jobs and supporting substantial value creation on the Burin Peninsula, and that they see no change to their support for the project.”

The Norway-based Grieg Group and its partner Ocean Choice International announced the project last year. It will include a land-based smolt facility in Marystown, Newfoundland, expected to produce 4,000 to 5,000 metric tons (MT) in annual production and 11 ocean pens projected to produce 30,000 MT in salmon annually, and is expected to employ approximately 800 workers. The project has a CAD 250 million (USD 200 million, EUR 172 million) price tag, including an investment of CAD 45 million (USD 36 million, EUR 31 million) from the federal and provincial government, and it would rank among the largest aquaculture operations in Canada if and when it is completed.  

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Grieg said the company’s subsidiary, Grieg NL, has “made substantial environmental analysis and studies for all sites, on land and at sea as well as for the area of Placentia Bay, according to the requirement of the licensing processes.”

However, Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party Earle McCurdy is calling for a new round of public hearings and full participation by federal agencies with purview over environment and fisheries as part of the creation of a new EIS for the project, according to VOCM, a radio station based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Sam Synard, the mayor of Marystown, the location of the proposed smolt farm, said that process could delay the project by years.

The Supreme Court’s decision has already delayed a planned announcement by the company and local officials scheduled for 26 July. A press conference being organized by the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in Marystown was postponed following the ruling, according to The Telegram, a Newfoundland newspaper. The event concerned the Grieg aquaculture project and was to feature Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, provincial ministers, and representatives of Grieg and Ocean Choice International.


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