Cooke Aquaculture expansion stalls in Shelburne, Digby
Province won't extend repayment on millions in loans
Two new fishing facilities that were supposed to be operating by 2015 won’t make that deadline.
Cooke Aquaculture should be opening a new salmon processing plant in Shelbourne and a fish hatchery in Digby next year.
“It will be definitely in a few years’ time. It’s not going to be 2015,” said Cooke’s Nell Halse.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the company won’t get more time to repay the loans for the stalled expansions.
The company has $18 million in financial assistance from the province, and it is eligible for another $7 million
“It was $16 million that was in a loan. We fully expect that to be repaid and we expect them to keep their commitments on the time line that was arranged for the rest of it,” McNeil said. “We’ll be looking for our money back.”
In turn, the company blames the province. Cooke says it’s years behind schedule because of a moratorium on new salmon farm sites.
“You really need like three million fish in the water every year to justify having a plant here, and building a hatchery and expanding our feed mill,” Halse said.
Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell says Cooke has enough farms already and could have leased other sites.
“They have made no real serious attempt to do that. We feel they have enough resources to do that now,” he said.
Cooke has said some of its sites are not being used to give the environment a break as part of a stewardship plan.