Mowi’s Indian Head Hatchery expansion has to undergo new environmental assessment

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Ruling confirmed the addition of 2.2 million salmon smolt off cannot proceed without a “robust and comprehensive environmental assessment”.

In a release from Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition for Aquaculture Reform (NL-CAR), it writes that a judge has delayed Mowi subsidiary Northern Harvest’s Indian Head Hatchery to expand off the South Coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

This follows Justice Daniel M. Boone’s February 27 decision that found the minister’s decision to release Mowi’s hatchery expansion from further environmental assessment without considering the resulting increase of aquaculture salmon in Newfoundland waters “was not based on an internally coherent and rational chain of analysis,” and violated Newfoundland’s Environmental Protection Act.

The Indian Head Hatchery provides smolt to sea cages of the Northern Harvest Sea Farms, which is now owned by Mowi – after it bought the company for USD 248m in 2018. The company came with its own broodstock, smolt hatchery, farming sites and processing operations.

Ecojustice lawyers representing 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, wrote: “The ruling confirms that aquaculture projects in the Province can’t proceed without a robust and comprehensive environmental assessment, which means the Province must now strengthen its regulatory approach”.

It added that: “Recent mass die-offs of farmed salmon, such as the death of millions of fish in Northern Harvest’s pens in Fortune Bay, have indicated the need for proper environmental assessments of these projects. Today’s ruling is a positive step towards closing a regulatory loophole in environmental assessments of fishing farming projects in the Province”.

Mowi spokesperson Jason Card told SalmonBusiness that The hatchery in question is an existing hatchery that is already licensed, is currently in operation and has been operating for years.

“Our plan is to upgrade the facility, and also enhance its capacity to produce smolt. Our project was registered for an Environmental Assessment so we could proceed, and after reviewing our submission, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment released the project from further environmental assessment,” he said.

“Ecojustice challenged the Minister’s decision to release the project, and on February 27, a judge found in favour of their arguments. The judge’s decision simply requires the Minister to consider our proposal again, and then make a decision about any additional environmental assessment he will require. The judge’s decision did not involve any directive to stop the operation of hatchery located in Newfoundland, or any other operations based in the province. We await the Minister’s decision about next steps, and look forward to finally having clarity as to what we must do to satisfy all requirements to advance this sustainable multi-million dollar aquaculture project we have begun in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he added.