Grieg responds to salmon farm suit

Published on
August 19, 2016

Grieg Newfoundland Seafarm executives say they are not worried about a lawsuit filed against the company earlier this week.

An environmental lawyer, concerned about the escapement of sterile salmon eggs from Norway-based Grieg Group’s planned Atlantic salmon hatchery in Marystown, Newfoundland, sued the company in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Releasing the project without a full scientific review and public hearings is contrary to the Environmental Protection Act,” said Attorney Owen Myers. “It is a quarter-of-a-billion dollar project and an environmental nightmare. Wild salmon stocks on the Newfoundland South Coast are already designated as threatened under the Species at Risk Act.”

Grieg, which has a local division known as Grieg Newfoundland, partnered with Ocean Choice International to build the CAD 250 million (USD 196 million, EUR 173 million) farm. The land-based smolt facility is expected to produce 4,000 to 5,000 metric tons (MT) in annual production, and the sea-based portion is expected to produce more than 30,000 MT in salmon annually.

Construction was set to begin in April, 2016, and the first batch of eggs should be in the hatchery by late 2017.

Grieg NL Seafarm executives have “no reason to be concerned” about the suit and it has ”no impact on our plans moving forward”, Perry Power, human resource manager for Grieg NL Seafarm, told SeafoodSource. “We are following the normal procedure for the industry in accordance to terms set by DFA and DFO for farming operations.”

Myers is protesting the fact that the hatchery was released from public environmental review by Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Environment and Conservation Perry Trimper. He believes that seven million sterile salmon eggs, which the company imported from Iceland, could put wild stocks at risk if they escape into Placentia Bay. “This is the first time importation of such eggs has been allowed,” Myers said.

Actually, Grieg NL Seafarm is using sterile salmon eggs to protect wild stocks, according to the company.

“It is the first time in Newfoundland that anyone has been interested to import and use a sterile Atlantic salmon in order to eliminate the risk of genetic pollution of wild Atlantic salmon in case of escape,” Power said.

“Taking advantage of this opportunity in the normal fertilization process produces a normal animal which is sterile and desirable for the marketplace. This aspect of modern aquaculture ensures wild stocks are protected and the aquaculture industry can thrive in harmony with the environment,” said Grieg NL Seafarm in a statement. “Sterile salmon have been used in Norway for years with success and its part of the ongoing effort to minimize the industry’s impact on the environment.”

When Grieg Nurseries originally submitted the hatchery plan, the company did not adequately address how salmon diseases would be handled, the suit alleges. In addition, “the proposal failed to address disease control methods via chemical treatment and antibiotics,” the complaint said.

The proposal also failed to deal with any strategy for the recapture of salmon escapees, “which have occurred in every net cage salmon aquaculture project and, in Newfoundland waters, to date over 800,000 salmon have escaped from net cages and have shown up in South Coast rivers,” Myers said.

At the time the project was announced in October, 2015, Per Grieg Jr. of the Grieg Group said, “We believe the province can be developed into a substantial producer of fresh salmon products for the whole North American market. There is a continuous and increasing demand for high-quality salmon, and we believe that Newfoundland and Labrador can supply this.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government also offered up to CAD 45 million (USD 35.2 million, EUR 31.1 million) at the time to help with the project.

Contributing Editor

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