Environmental assessment of NL aquaculture project upheld by Court of Appeal

Sep 18, 2018
ST. ANDREWS – A panel of three judges in Newfoundland and Labrador have dismissed an appeal from the provincial government and Grieg NL. Both were attempting to overturn an earlier court decision that forced the company to conduct a full environmental assessment of the Placentia Bay aquaculture project.

“This ruling has raised the bar for environmental assessment in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said ASF president Bill Taylor. “The judges have highlighted serious reservations about the Placentia Bay project and have clearly stated that governments must consider the level of public concern in environmental decision making.”

However, it’s unlikely this decision from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal will affect the current status of the Placentia Bay aquaculture project. Prior to the appeal hearing in December 2017, the provincial government, on the orders of a lower court, instructed Grieg NL to proceed with an environmental impact statement (EIS). Guidelines were set by a provincial review committee, and then Grieg NL spent just over two months of an allotted three-year period to complete its EIS. Days before the Court of Appeal decision was issued, Newfoundland and Labrador’s environment minister approved the project.

“When this ruling is considered along with the first judgement, which ordered an EIS be completed, a pattern of behavior emerges. It shows that the government has attempted to avoid environmental assessment continuously and without legal justification,” said Dr. Steve Sutton, ASF’s director of outreach and engagement.

The Placentia Bay project is the largest open net-pen salmon aquaculture development ever proposed in Canada. It would place cages with the capacity to hold 19 million farmed salmon in an area that currently has no open net-pen aquaculture and where wild salmon populations are considered at risk of extinction. Grieg NL also plans to introduce a European strain of domesticated salmon to Atlantic Canadian waters, something that has not been done legally before.

ASF maintains that a full environmental assessment of the Placentia Bay aquaculture project has not been completed. Crucially, no baseline studies on the movement or abundance of wild species in Placentia Bay were conducted, despite the company being required to do so in guidelines laid out by the provincially appointed project review committee.

ASF is preparing an appeal under the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Protection Act, asking the environment minister to reconsider his decision and return Grieg’s EIS for further work.

For more information contact:

Neville Crabbe – ASF Communications
(506) 529-1033

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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