The Western Star

Lawsuit filed against Stephenville hatchery expansion

Apr 24, 2019
STEPHENVILLE, N.L. — A lawsuit has been filed against the Indian Head Hatchery expansion in Newfoundland and Labrador that asks the court to order that the expansion not proceed without a proper environmental assessment.

A news release states that Ecojustice — a group acting on behalf of grassroots groups and individuals concerned about the health of wild Atlantic salmon stocks — is behind the legal action.

The release claims the expansion to the Stephenville facility poses a threat to wild Atlantic salmon populations, and could further stress wild salmon populations already in decline.

The group says the province’s minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment acted unlawfully when he decided to release the hatchery from further environmental assessment.

Ecojustice lawyers are acting on behalf of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, the Freshwater-Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation, the Port Au Port Bay Fishery Committee, Alan Pickersgill, John Baird and Wayne Holloway.

“Wild Atlantic salmon in some areas of Newfoundland and Labrador have declined 45 per cent since 2015, and this project could worsen the situation,” said James Dinn, president of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland.

“The threats posed by open-net pen salmon farming to wild salmon populations are well documented. Wild salmon can be severely affected by competition, interbreeding and disease. Given these significant threats, we are calling on the province to develop its aquaculture industry in an environmentally responsible and precautionary manner.”

Sarah McDonald, lawyer for Ecojustice, said they believe there are “glaring loopholes in the way fish farms are regulated in the province, which multinational corporations are using to expand their operations in a way that allows them to avoid environmental assessment.”

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