The Grieg Seafood salmon-farming company has put together a $250 million plan to develop a major fish farming subsidiary in the province of Newfoundland-Labrador on Canada’s Atlantic coast.
Project manager Clyde Collier told this publication that the hatchery side of the program - which comes under newly-formed Grieg Nurseries NL Ltd - is designed to produce up to seven million smolt a year.
And when fully-implemented the whole project would employ hundreds of people in fulltime, year-round jobs in the Marystown and Placentia Bay region of the province.
Collier confirmed that Marystown is to be the location of the proposed $75-million water-recirculating hatchery, complete with nursery and initial juvenile-development units to prepare the juvenile fish to go into marine net pens.
And there will also be a processing complex to service a total of 11 new marine net-pen sites in three separate areas of nearby Placentia Bay.
It was hoped initially that all the necessary authorizations would be obtained quickly enough to start construction on the hatchery-nursery facilities early in 2016. Indeed, some ground-preparation has already been started for the hatchery unit, based on evident support from the provincial government.
However, as of mid November the Newfoundland and Labrador government had put a temporary halt to the environmental assessment for the hatchery.
Collier confirmed that because of the Memorandum of Understanding with Grieg for the provincial government to put an investment of $45million into the entire $250m development at Placentia Bay, the Department of Environment and Conservation decided the project-assessment request or registration had to cover the entire program, rather than being restricted to just the hatchery.
As a result, said Collier, rather than withdraw the initial registration and resubmitting, he and others will be adding the necessary supplementary information.
And once that’s all in, the minister of environment and conservation will have 45 days to make a decision as to whether it accords with both federal and provincial requirements.
During those 45 days, Collier said, Grieg will conduct both closed-door, in-private consultations - with bodies such as municipal and local government or formal fishermen’s groups - and open consultations with members of the public at large, over a period of at least 35 days.
Collier, said that it was still unclear how long it was likely to take to add the extra information about the project. He indicated, however, that he thought that company had probably already gathered all the necessary data and it was likely to be mostly a matter of designing the forms or templates and “plugging in the details”
In a detailed summary of the early-rearing side of the project Collier told Hatchery International that the hatchery-nursery and initial smoltification unit will consist of two large water-recirculating buildings on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The operation will grow Atlantic salmon to two sizes of smolts for putting out to net-pens at different times of the year.
When ready to go out - as either 300-600gram or as 1-1.5kg smolts - the fish will spend their final hours at the complex in a large, 20-by-5-metre outdoor tank filled with ocean water. From there they will be loaded directly by gravity through a pipe into a wellboat at the site dock 20 metres away. That will take them to the net pen sites, the nearest of which is about 20 kms away.
Collier acknowledged that Grieg does not intend to grow its own broodstock for the Newfoundland program. Instead, he said, it’s intended that some 7.5 million triploid eggs will be bought from one of two salmon-egg producing companies in Europe.
— Quentin Dodd