Nfld. & Labrador

Grieg Seafoods swimming closer to target goal of moving 3 million farmed salmon into pens, says CEO

Grieg Seafood is getting closer to moving young, farmed Atlantic salmon to its sea cages in Placentia Bay — another step forward for the large operation, which is projected to produce 33,000 metric tonnes of fish. 

CEO says focus now is on infrastructure and sea operations

Andreas Kvame is the CEO of Norway-based Grieg Seafood. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

Grieg Seafood is getting closer to moving young, farmed Atlantic salmon to its sea cages in Placentia Bay — another step forward for the large operation, which is expected to produce 45,000 metric tonnes of fish annually by 2030. 

Grieg's CEO, Andreas Kvame, was in St. John's this week to discuss how things were going. Last year, infectious salmon anemia was found in one of the fish slated for a sea cage and forced a yearlong delay to the operation. At the time, the company culled a million fish as a result of the finding.

"We are developing very well now on the land-side down in Marystown. We have close to three million fish on land there," Kvame said. 

"Our focus now is to set up the sea-side operation."

Kvame said next steps include setting up the actual infrastructure needed to house the salmon, including the pens, nets and feeding system. 

He said plans are to move the roughly three million fish into the cages by May, depending on the temperature. 

The short-term target is to harvest 15,000 metric tonnes of fish annually by 2025 and 45,000 tonnes annually by 2030. And with the operation, Kvame said, comes jobs. 

"It's absolutely realistic and possible to do, and that means that when we are up and running there will be somewhere in the range of 580 to 600 people employed directly or indirectly in this industry for us," Kvame said. 

Norwegian company Grieg Seafood plans to harvest 45,000 tonnes of salmon annually by 2030. (Northern Harvest Sea Farms)

After the salmon are fully grown, they will then need to be harvested and processed. Kvame said most of that process, too, will happen locally. 

He said the company is working on different local opportunities already, with the first fish expected to come out of the water in the fall of 2023. The target is to process 80 per cent of the fish in Newfoundland, with North America being the primary market. 

The Grieg Group of Companies — Grieg N.L. is its division in Newfoundland and Labrador — is based in Norway and is among the world's top farmed salmon production companies.

Kvame said his visit to St. John's this week was to discuss how Canada can be a leading exporter of farmed salmon. The company also has operations in British Columbia, which is facing its own challenges at the federal level as government looks to move away from open-pen farming in that area. 

But that isn't stopping Kvame from setting Grieg's sights on the country's potential. 

"We believe very much in Canada. The temperature profile we have in Canada, both on the West Coast and the East Coast of Canada, it's really a benefit for farmed salmon," he said. 

"There's not many place you can do it in the sea. That's the most energy-efficient way of doing it.… We think there's a huge potential to develop the blue economy in this region."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The Broadcast

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