AquaBounty expansion application gets green light

The P.E.I. Department of Environment has approved an application by AquaBounty Canada to repurpose Snow Island's Atlantic Sea Smolt plant in Rollo Bay West.

The Council of Canadians writes to Department of Environment to register opposition

AquaBounty would use the new location to raise up to 13,000 conventional adult salmon to provide eggs that would be transferred to its plant in Bay Fortune. (AquaBounty Technologies)

The Prince Edward Island Department of Environment has approved an application by AquaBounty Canada to repurpose Snow Island's Atlantic Sea Smolt plant in Rollo Bay West.

AquaBounty produces genetically modified salmon which grow at an accelerated rate. The company has received approval to sell the genetically modified salmon as food in both the U.S. and in Canada.

Earlier this year, AquaBounty Canada — which produces the genetically modified salmon eggs in its Bay Fortune, P.E.I., plant — applied to expand operations to another plant in Rollo Bay West.

AquaBounty would use the new location to raise up to 13,000 conventional salmon to provide eggs that would be transferred to its plant in Bay Fortune — only 3,470 of which will be three- and four-year-old mature brood stock. The company says no GMO activities will take place at the Rollo Bay facility and that the salmon and associated eggs there would not be GMO.

According to the company's environmental impact statement, the conventional salmon in the Rollo Bay facility will be housed inside tanks, inside a building.

The company says eggs transported between the facilities will be unfertilized, and shipped in rugged, sealed containers.

An employee will live on-site for security and to ensure the site is operating properly, according to the company. 

AquaBounty has received approval to sell the genetically modified salmon as food in both the U.S. and in Canada. (AquaBounty)

Permit conditions

The province has given the company a ground water extraction permit allowing an average pumping rate of no more than 1,375 imperial gallons per minute, in total over a month.

Another condition requires the company to discharge between 80 and 120 gallons of water per minute upstream of the facility to ensure there is enough water in the stream year round.

The company also has to provide monthly effluent samples and samples from its groundwater wells for testing for the first two years. 

According to the company's environmental impact statement, effluent will be screened as it leaves the facility before entering a settling pond, where it is screened again before being discharged into a stream on the property.

Sludge will be disposed of at a provincially approved location.

Aquabounty produces genetically modified salmon which grow at an accelerated rate. (Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press)

Council of Canadians objection

The Council of Canadians has written to the Department of Environment to register its objection.

Spokesman Leo Broderick says the group is concerned about the amount of water that will be extracted, about effluent going into the stream and about the transport of eggs between facilities.

Work to renovate and upgrade the Rollo Bay facility is planned for this summer.