Risk Assessment of Grieg Plan for Placentia Bay Aquaculture

Assessment of the risks to wild Atlantic salmon
posed by the Grieg NL Seafarms proposal
for salmon aquaculture development in Placentia Bay

Prepared by: Atlantic Salmon Federation

This document outlines the concerns held by the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) and the Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador (SCNL) regarding the impacts of the Placentia Bay aquaculture proposal on wild Atlantic salmon.

The proponent claims that the project will have no significant impacts on wild salmon. ASF/SCNL have investigated this claim and determined that it cannot be justified by the information presented by the proponent or by the scientific literature. We have identified four major issues with the proponentís claim:

  1. The claim that genetic interactions between wild and farmed salmon will be eliminated by using sterile female fish is misleading. The process to make fish sterile is only 96-99.9% effective. Grieg has proposed to produce 7,000,000 European strain smolt annually. If only 0.1% of the fish are fertile (able to spawn), then there could be 7,000 European strain female salmon capable of becoming sexually mature placed into sea cages in Placentia Bay every year. There are likely about 7,000 wild Atlantic salmon returning to Placentia Bay Rivers annually, so the potential for genetic pollution by escapees could be large even if only a small fraction or escapes are sexually mature. The use of European strain (instead of local strain) salmon multiplies the risk because these fish are genetically distinct from our own local wild salmon.

  2. Inadequate information has been provided about how escapes will be prevented or recaptured. The proponent claims they will meet Newfoundland and Norwegian standards for preventing escapes, but both jurisdictions continue to experience problems with escapes, indicating that the standards are not highly effective.  For instance, in 2015, more than 150 escaped farmed salmon were collected by DFO from three different Fortune Bay rivers. These fish came from an escape event that had not been reported by industry. In Norway about 160,000 farmed salmon escapes were reported in 2015. The proponent has not explained the specific practices they will use to prevent salmon from escaping or how escaped salmon will be recaptured, nor have they sufficiently demonstrated that their proposed containment methods are an improvement on ineffective methods currently used in Newfoundland.

  3. The proponent has not provided sufficient information on initiatives to control disease and parasites. The proponent has indicated that lumpfish will be used to control sea lice, but has not explained how effective this is or how it helps eliminate impacts of sea lice on wild salmon. The proponent has also failed to discuss issues associated with Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) and other diseases, the potential for new diseases to be imported with salmon eggs from Europe, or how the spread of diseases to wild salmon will be prevented.

  4. Inappropriate siting of sea-cage sites near salmon rivers and migratory routes. All of the sea cage sites will be located near the mouths of salmon rivers or along likely salmon migratory routes. This will amplify all of the risks identified above. The proponent has provide no indication that they understand or have considered the ways in which wild salmon use and migrate through Placentia Bay, no justification for locating sea-cage sites near salmon rivers and migratory routes, and no evaluation of other sites that might reduce the risks to wild salmon.

For these reasons, ASF and SCNL reject the proponentís claim that the project will pose no significant risk to wild salmon in Placentia Bay. We believe that the proposed project will pose significant risk to threatened wild salmon populations, and that these risks need to be investigated further and fully considered in decisions about the acceptability and viability of this project.

For the Press Release of ASF and SPAWN released Mar. 16, 2016
click here

For a full description of the proposed project see:

The Environmental Assessment for this proposal is open for public comment until March 26th, 2016.

To send a message to the Minister of Environment and Conservation requesting a full Environmental Impact Statement for this project, e-mail:
(Quote EA registration #1834)

ASF Backgrounder of Grieg Placentia Project 65.0KB