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Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball tells NTV the provincial government is exploring its options over the Grieg salmon farm project. Photo: NTV screenshot.
Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball tells NTV the provincial government is exploring its options over the Grieg salmon farm project. Photo: NTV screenshot.

The Premier of Canada's Newfoundland and Labrador province, Dwight Ball, has signalled that his government may appeal a court decision that threatens to delay or derail plans for the country's biggest salmon farming project.

Last week the province's Supreme Court ordered that the plans by Grieg NL, a subsidiary of Norwegian-owned Grieg Group, must undergo a full environmental impact assessment (EIA), something not normally required for fish farms in Canada. The decision by Justice Gillian Butler followed an appeal by non-governmental organisation the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) against last July’s provincial government decision release Grieg’s project from further environmental assessment.

Grieg plans a large land-based facility for smolt and small salmon (post-smolt) up to 1.5 kg, as well as application for 11 sea sites for production of up to 30,000 tons of harvested salmon in the Placentia Bay area in the southeast part of Newfoundland.

Exploring the options

Speaking to Don Bradshaw of Newfoundland TV station NTV, Ball said: "We are reviewing the ruling of last week, the Department of Justice are looking at what options we have available for us right right now, and also once we explore all those options a decision will be made on how we continue to advance this project."

Ball continued: "Many people would say that it is an industry that has saved the Coast of Bays, as an example in St Albans [where Cooke Aquaculture has a hatchery] and Harbour Breton and so on. So this was really as expansion, something we have done with the On Our Way Forward document, so this ruling was relatively new to the industry. But we respect the ruling and we respect the decision that the court has made."

Environmental responsibility

The provincial government, which has committed to funding CA$45m of the CA$250m (£152m) project, is anxious for it to go ahead and believes it can be done in an environmentally-conscious manner.

"We are not going to jeopardise the environmental responsibility that we have in our province but we are always going to explore how we develop our economy as well," Ball told NTV. "It [aquaculture] creates a lot of jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as does the environment and the industries that are attached to that as well."