The Newfound and Labrador government's minister of environment Eddie Joyce gave the company behind the project - Grieg NL - official notice that an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required in order for the company to proceed with its plans to build the salmon farm, CBC reported.
Grieg NL’s proposal includes a CA$75 million hatchery and nursery facility, to produce seven million smolt annually and stock 11 sea cage sites in Placentia Bay, ultimately producing 33,000 tonnes of salmon a year. This would more than double the province’s annual production of farmed salmon.
In July 2016 Perry Trimper, who was then minister of environment and climate change, released the project from further environmental assessment. North American non-governmental organisation the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) appealed Trimper’s decision and Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador judge, Justice Gillian Butler, overruled the politician.
That decision is being appealed by the government, with hearings scheduled to begin next month, but in the meantime Grieg has agreed to go ahead with an EIS.
Prudent business step
In a statement, the company said: "As a prudent business step, Grieg NL is willing to commence an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Placentia Bay Aquaculture Project effective immediately. Grieg NL will work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and its assigned environmental assessment committee to develop assessment guidelines to focus on key issues related to the effects the project could have on bio-physical and socio-economic environments.
"We are very conscious of the importance of our project to the people of the Placentia Bay specifically and to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador in general. We will work with the Provincial Environmental Department and its appointed committee to pursue this process expediently in parallel to the court proceedings. Grieg NL looks forward to public meetings to be held in the coming weeks which will outline the benefits of our project.
Resume work if appeal is successful
"Grieg NL is confident in the appeal by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and as an intervenor in that appeal, believes the completion of an EIS is unnecessary from an environmental perspective. Grieg NL looks forward to resuming work on the project if the appeal is successful."
Joyce said that it is hard to tell how long the EIS will take. There is a 120-day window for an environmental assessment committee to be chosen and for the guidelines to be drafted. After that, the public will be invited to weigh in.