Grieg Aquaculture Decision July 26, 2016
Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador calls for Minister’s resignation.
The Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador (SCNL) is appalled by the cowardly and inexplicable decision by Honourable Perry Trimper, Minister of Environment and Conservation by releasing the Placentia Bay Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Project by Grieg NL Nurseries and Seafarms from further environmental assessment. The fact that the Minister choose to release his decision at 5:20 pm on a Friday afternoon speaks volumes as we are all familiar with such transparent attempts to announce an indefensible decision at a time when no one can respond. The Minister could have saved himself the trouble as the stink from this decision will follow him like the odour of rotting fish. What may be a little less obvious is that the Minister is in violation of the province’s own environmental legislation. The decision was supposed to be released on April 26 almost 3 months ago according to the requirements of the legislation and regulations. The Minister conveniently delayed his decision until he felt everyone had forgotten about Grieg’s proposal and the devastating effects it will have on wild Atlantic salmon in NL. During this time the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) provided its approval for the introduction of triploid salmon and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency gave its approval for the introduction of European triploid salmon to NL. SCNL in its response to the registered documents called for the outright rejection of this environmentally reckless project. The very least the Minister should have done is followed the requirements of the regulations and called for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The legislation and regulations require the Minister to call for an EIS when there is significant public concern expressed about a project or where there is the potential for significant negative environmental effects. It is hard to imagine that the public concern for this project could be completely dismissed and the project released with no significant conditions. The whole process leaves the province in a vulnerable position for a court challenge.
The introduction of European fertilized eggs for this project creates a precedent for Canada in that this is
the first time that salmon of European origin will be used in a Canadian Aquaculture Project. No one
knows how these fish will impact wild Atlantic salmon and there will be no chance to study it.
Apparently the Minister feels it is fine for NL to be the aquaculture guinea pig but Canada will also end
up paying for this precedent setting decision. Unfortunately by the time the negative impacts are
obvious Minister Trimper will likely be gone and will not have to answer for his terrible decision.
The province is also a significant investor for this project putting $45 million of taxpayer’s money into a
very questionable and risky industry. This creates a very clear conflict of interest for the Minister and the
NL Government. How can the Minister objectively assess the environmental review of a project when
his own government including the Premier and the Cabinet have invested $45 million in the project?
Grieg’s proposal will set into motion an absolutely huge net pen aquaculture project in Placentia Bay
which will see an annual production of 33,000 metric tonnes of farmed salmon and seven (7) million
salmon being processed in those pens annually. To put things in perspective the largest commercial
harvest of salmon in NL was 4500 metric tonnes. Also the total world population of large wild Atlantic
salmon is somewhere around 2 million and declining. It is not hard to imagine the potential for negative
impacts on the already threatened local population of wild Atlantic salmon.
Grieg proposed this project in several other countries but could not get approval. Little wonder that
Grieg has settled on NL where government not only puts in $45 million but also gives them a free ride
Grieg claims in its proposal that there will be no escapes of farmed salmon from its pens and apparently
the Minister believes this even though significant escape is a given part of the finfish aquaculture
industry worldwide. Similarly the industry is plagued by disease such as infectious salmon anemia (ISA),
sea lice and numerous other issues. Grieg promises to eliminate these by following good Norwegian
husbandry practices. Again the Minister buys it but the wild Atlantic salmon of NL will pay for it.
SCNL has never been more alarmed by a ministerial decision and has lost all confidence in the
Environmental Assessment Process (EAP). SCNL and its affiliates have participated in good faith in the
EAP for many projects in the past. However this decision shows that the exercise is just that, a complete
waste of time and effort. In SCNL’s view the only honourable thing for the Minister to do is resign.
Leo White, Vice President, SCNL
709 753 4034