Marine Harvest $51 million smolt factory cannot expand in its current form say wild salmon conservationists

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A Marine Harvest-owned hatchery in Canada is to getting a major upgrade. However the Atlantic Salmon Federation says it believes a proposal to expand it cannot legally proceed without amending the environmental assessment process.

In July SalmonBusiness reported that Northern Harvest Smolt Ltd. applied to Municipal Affairs and Environment to carry out a $51 million expansion in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada. The minister’s decision is due on Aug. 31.

However, Dr. Stephen Sutton, the federation’s co-ordinator of community outreach and engagement, states in a letter to the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment as reported in the thetelegram that:

“This project is an integral part of a larger undertaking to expand the parent company’s aquaculture production on the south coast of Newfoundland.”

“As acknowledged by the proponent, that undertaking includes expansion of farming activities in the marine environment, activities which are known to have significant negative impacts on wild Atlantic salmon and the surrounding environment.

“Despite describing the hatchery expansion in detail, the proponent has failed to describe any aspects of the expansion of the marine component of their operations. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to avoid having their plans for expanded marine farming subjected to the scientific and public scrutiny of an environmental assessment.”

He added that because of this the “entire undertaking must be registered for environmental assessment”, furthermore, as the current EA (environmental assessment process) stands, the significant impact on wild Atlantic salmon and the fisheries will not be addressed.

Earlier this month, Marine Harvest completed the $248m acquisition of Northern Harvest Sea Farms as part of its long term strategy. They company came with its own broodstock, smolt hatchery, farming sites and processing operations.

The hatchery provides smolts to the licensed sea cages belonging to Northern Harvest Sea Farms. It aims to be expanded if the environmental assessment gets approval.

As part of the expansion, there will be more tanks as well as salt water at the facility so to introduce them to the sea better. The company also aim to add new recirculation technology at the hatchery.

Marine Harvest have been contacted for comment.