Nfld. & Labrador

Grieg NL Seafarms says Placentia Bay project is sustainable, environmentally responsible

The company proposing an aquaculture project in Placentia Bay is calling its work environmentally responsible while a St. John's lawyer is suing the provincial government over its release of the project from further environmental assessment.

St. John's lawyer suing government over release of project from environmental assessment

Grieg NL Seafarms is planning to make the Placentia Bay project into one of the largest aquaculture operations in the country. (Hans-Petter Fjeld/Wikimedia Commons)

A salmon farming company proposing a $250 million aquaculture project in Placentia Bay is standing by its work, calling the venture sustainable and environmentally responsible.

St. John's lawyer Owen Myers filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the provincial government for releasing the project from further environmental assessment in July.

Myers said the province was reckless in its decision making, and is concerned the technology Grieg will use is not yet scientifically proven. He believes this expansion could "wipe out" salmon stocks in the area.

Myers wants the province to do a full environmental impact statement before allowing the project to proceed.

Marystown Mayor Sam Synard is a supporter of the aquaculture project. In an interview with CBC News in September, he said it could create as many as 700 direct jobs. (CBC )

In a statement to media, Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd. addressed some of his concerns.

The company said it plans to grow sterile salmon in Placentia Bay for a "growing global market." It will make the salmon sterile, which is desirable for the marketplace, by exposing the eggs to high pressure.

"This aspect of modern aquaculture ensures wild stocks are protected and the aquaculture industry can thrive in harmony with the environment," the statement reads.

"Sterile salmon have been used in Norway for years with success and it's part of the ongoing effort to minimize the industry's impact on the environment."

The company also commented on the issue of using lumpfish to control sea lice, which occur naturally on wild salmon and, according to the company, can damage the health and quality of the farmed fish.

"A proven natural approach of modern aquaculture is the use of cleaner fish," the statement reads, citing Norway, Shetland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands as examples of where the use of lumpfish to control sea lice has been successful.

"Grieg NL Seafarms will use lumpfish to help manage this problem. A viable broodstock is being developed here in Newfoundland by Memorial University," it said.

"[The company] is committed to keeping the public updated as this exciting opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador proceeds."

Grieg NL Seafarms declined CBC's request for an interview.