ASF to appeal greenlight for Placentia Bay aquaculture project

Rushed impact study on mega-development ignores critical requirements
Sep 13, 2018
ST. ANDREWS – The recent decision by Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Environment to accept Grieg NL’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Placentia Bay Aquaculture project sets a worrying precedent for environmental assessment in Canada. As a result, the largest proposed open net-pen salmon aquaculture development in Canadian history has been cleared to proceed, despite significant environmental risk and outstanding questions.

A provincial review committee assigned to the Placentia Bay aquaculture project issued explicit guidelines for the company’s EIS, but many of those requirements, including the need to gather baseline data on wild species in Placentia Bay, remain incomplete. ASF and others documented these shortcomings in detailed comments submitted ahead of the minister’s decision, asking that the EIS be returned to Grieg for additional work.

“The release of this project is not surprising given the conflict of interest that arises from the provincial government acting as regulator, decision maker, and now an investor in Grieg itself,” said ASF President Bill Taylor. “The recent announcement that government will buy shares in the company is a clear signal that this review has not been impartial.”

In addition to public money, the memorandum of understanding between Grieg NL and Newfoundland and Labrador gives the company a monopoly on salmon aquaculture in Placentia Bay.

Although most concerns highlighted in the comments of ASF and others were ignored in the minister’s release decision, some were addressed through conditions placed on the company. For example, Grieg will be required to mark every fish moving into the cages, and report publicly on escapes and other aspects of the project.

ASF initiated a judicial review in October, 2016, following the Newfoundland and Labrador government’s first attempt to release the Placentia Bay aquaculture project from environmental assessment. A Provincial Supreme Court judge sided with ASF, declaring that a screening level environmental assessment was insufficient. A full-scale EIS was then ordered, with the judge declaring it a “duty owed to the people of the province.”

Government leaders appealed that decision and a judgment is pending. However, in the interim, the EIS went ahead. Grieg NL had at least three years to gather the required information, but instead, the company performed a superficial review in a little over two months.

“Disease outbreaks, fish escapes, and a lack of company accountability are ongoing problems with the existing salmon aquaculture industry in Newfoundland. The lack of effort Grieg put into completing a court-ordered EIS provides little comfort this company will operate differently,” said Steve Sutton, ASF’s director of outreach and engagement.

As a result of the release decision, ASF will prepare an appeal to the minister in accordance with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Environmental Protection Act, asking him to reconsider his decision on the sufficiency of the EIS. ASF remains committed to the principle of environmental assessment and will direct efforts to ensure a proper review is conducted for this project and any new salmon aquaculture projects or modifications.


For more information contact:


Neville Crabbe – ASF Communications
(506) 529-1033
ncrabbe@asf.ca

The Atlantic Salmon Federation was formed in 1948. Our mission is to conserve and restore wild Atlantic salmon and their ecosystems. To learn more visit www.asf.ca

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