Grieg Seafood wins bid to expand aquaculture in Newfoundland’s south coast

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Grieg Seafood NL bested a number of salmon farmers that have responded to Newfoundland’s Department of Fisheries’ October 2020 call for Expression of Interest in establishing marine salmon farming operations in the south coast of the province.

The Fisheries Department on Tuesday (26 April) said that Grieg Seafood Newfoundland “was the highest ranked proponent in a thorough, multi-phase procurement process.”

The Canadian province identified the “Bays West” area as having the potential for commercial development, which could add approximately 15,000 to 20,000 MT to Newfoundland’s annual production of Atlantic salmon and create employment and economic development, particularly on the island’s southwest coast.

The Bays West is a remote area lacking infrastructure such as wharves, storage facilities, and roads, said the department. Grieg Seafood will need to undertake extensive planning and significant investment in order to expand in this region and will need to demonstrate ability to address these logistical and geographical challenges, it added.

“Our government recognizes that a sustainable aquaculture sector is an important part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s commitment to food self-sufficiency and economic development, in particular in rural regions. Based on Grieg Seafood Newfoundland’s actions to date and its strong proposal for this area, we anticipate it will uphold its commitment to support local jobs, economic development, and the highest standards of environmental sustainability. We look forward to working with the company as it maps out the future development of the bays west region,” said Honourable Derrick Bragg, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture.

Knut Skeidsvoll, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, says the next step is to conduct a thorough assessment to confirm the area of sites suitable for sustainable salmon farming. “Grieg Seafood Newfoundland remain committed to develop our operations in Newfoundland and Labrador gradually and responsibly,” he said.

Newfoundland is a greenfield project for Grieg Seafood of Norway. It entered the Canadian province with its acquisition of Grieg Newfoundland in February 2020. As of year-end 2021, the salmon producer had eight seawater licenses and one freshwater license. It has applied for additional seawater licenses.

As a relative newcomer, the producer has yet to transfer fish to sea for growout in Placentia Bay, where it has long-term exclusive farming rights. The transfer of smolts was delayed after it suffered a setback in the summer of 2021 when it had to cull 1 million smolts because one fish was found to have the infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAv).
ISAv and sea lice are two of the major biological challenges facing salmon farmers in the province. The harsh temperatures are also taxing. In 2019, Newfoundland’s overall salmon yield went down 6 percent to 14,167 tonnes from 2018 figures as a result of “temperature events” that killed 2.6 million or roughly 5,000 MT of salmon at Mowi Canada East.

But Grieg Seafood NL is optimistic about the province’s potential.

“Our new region in Newfoundland is expected to provide a harvest of 15 000 tonnes in 2025, and has a long-term harvest potential of at least 45 000 tonnes….With proximity to important markets on the US East Coast, our Newfoundland region significantly strengthens our US market exposure and opens for synergies with our existing operations,” it said.