Nfld. & Labrador

Placentia Bay aquaculture project a go with 'almost unanimous support': mayor

The mayor of Marystown says his community is one step closer to rekindling its former fishing prosperity now that an aquaculture project in the town has gotten the go-ahead.
Marystown Mayor Sam Synard says the aquaculture project in his community could create as many as 700 direct jobs, with hundreds more from the spinoff. (CBC )

The mayor of Marystown says his community is one step closer to rekindling its former fishing prosperity now that an aquaculture project in the town has gotten the go-ahead.

Sam Synard said Grieg NL Nurseries, the Norway-based company that's looking at farming salmon off the coast near the town, has gone through federal and provincial environmental assessment, giving the project the green light.

"The project is a go," Synard said on CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

"There are some other conditions that need to be met, but they're very basic conditions that are attached to a lot of economic development proposals." 

He said conditions like reporting progress on development, identifying the number of people that could be employed and obtaining municipal permits and permissions are routine. 

Synard said the hatchery will be built in Marystown itself, within the industrial park, and 11 large-scale growing cages will be placed in deep water throughout Placentia Bay.

"The plan is, the salmon will come into Marystown, they'll grow to a certain size … and then they'll be transported by boat, all in an enclosed system, and disbursed throughout Placentia Bay," he said.

Direct and indirect jobs

Synard said it appears as though the processing will be carried out at the OCI plant in St. Lawrence, with the plant operating 24 hours a day within a few years, processing just salmon .

"The direct component will probably be 600 or 700 direct jobs in Placentia Bay," said Synard, who believes that with spinoff, between 1,500 and 2,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created.

"These are renewable jobs, of course, there's no start date or finish date. They'll go on forever because aquaculture is a renewable industry." 

Synard said construction jobs building barges and well boats will also be created as part of the project.

'Safest aquaculture project in the world'

Despite concerns about the environment and the quality of the fish, Synard said there is "almost unanimous support" in Marystown for the project.

"This will be the most environmentally sound, safest aquaculture project in the world by virtue of being the newest," he said. 

Synard said Grieg will be using high quality cages and farming sterile salmon in case the fish manage to escape into the wild.

He hopes the company can start breaking ground immediately. 

With files from the St. John's Morning Show