Marystown salmon hatchery previewed in environmental review

A proposal to build a $75-million salmon hatchery in Marystown, on Newfoundland and Labrador's Burin Peninsula, is now being evaluated by the province's environment department.

Grieg Nurseries Ltd. hoping to begin operations next summer

A company called Grieg Nurseries N.L. Ltd. is proposing to build a salmon hatchery in Marystown. (CBC photo) (CBC)

A proposal to build a $75-million salmon hatchery in Marystown, on Newfoundland and Labrador's Burin Peninsula, is now being evaluated by the province's environment department.

The company, Grieg Nurseries N.L. Ltd., has plans to produce up to seven million smolt annually, becoming the third and largest hatchery to operate in the province.

A company spokesman, Clyde Collier, said this will include six million smolt weighing 300 grams, and another one million weighing about 1.5 kilograms.

This is significantly larger than the smolt traditionally produced in this province, he explained.

The idea, he added, is to reduce the amount of time that salmon are in the ocean farms from about 18 to 16 months.

"Larger fish going in means larger fish coming out," he said, noting that this means better prices in the marketplace, and helps combat issues related to sea lice and other health challenges.

Collier said the goal of Grieg Holdings, the Norweigian based parent company, is to establish an aquaculture industry in this province that produces up to 30,000 metric tonnes of farmed salmon annually, which would make it a major player in the industry.

Another division of the company, Grieg Seafarms, is proposing to establish farms in Placentia Bay, he explained.

Collier said planning has been ongoing for about a year, though he cautioned that plenty of work remains.

He said there's plenty of excitement in the Marystown area about the proposal, and the company is continuing to negotiate an agreement with the town council.

Decision from the minister by Nov. 15

Members of the public have until Nov. 9 to make comments on the project, and Minister Dan Crummell is expected to make a decision by Nov. 15.

According to the department's environmental assessment bulletin, the company wants to build a re-circulation aquaculture system (RAS) hatchery for Atlantic salmon in the town's marine industrial park.

The hatchery, smolt nursery and a smolt landbase will be spread over 10.2 hectares.

There will be 200 full-time and part-time construction jobs, and 23 full-time jobs once the hatchery is completed, the bulletin states.

The company wants to begin construction this fall.

The registration documents describe Marystown as the "ideal location" for the hatchery because it offers suitable groundwater and land adjacent to Mortier Bay, reducing the amount of time the fish have to be handled.

"The facility will provide for a critical asset in the farming production of Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador and adding greatly to the prosperity of the province," the document reads.

As for funding, the company described the provincial government as "anticipated partners," and said it is also anticipating funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, a federal Crown corporation.