The group is asking a court to ensure that what it calls “a proper environmental assessment” is carried out.
Ecojustice claims Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of municipal affairs and environment acted unlawfully when he decided to release the hatchery from further environmental assessment last year.
It points out that the environmental assessment for the Indian Head Hatchery expansion was scoped to exclude the project’s marine portion - the open net pens to which an additional 2.2 million salmon smolt will be transferred. The expansion, approved in September 2018, would result in a 50% increase to the hatchery’s production capacity.
Ecojustice lawyers are acting on behalf of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, the Freshwater-Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation, the Port Au Port Bay Fishery Committee, Alan Pickersgill, John Baird and Wayne Holloway.
“Wild Atlantic salmon in some areas of Newfoundland and Labrador have declined 45% since 2015, and this project could worsen the situation,” claimed James Dinn, president of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, in a report on the Western Star news website.
The Indian Head Hatchery provides smolts for sites of Northern Harvest Sea Farms, which was bought by Mowi for US$248 million last year.
Ecojustice lawyers have previously been successful when acting for anti-salmon farming campaigner Alexandra Morton, who argued that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ policy and practice of allowing companies to transfer farmed salmon into open net pens in the ocean without first testing them for piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) was illegal.