An illustration of Cooke's proposed hatchery, which would take three years to build. Image: Cooke Aquaculture.

Cooke hatchery plan takes major leap forward

Cooke Aquaculture’s plan for a Can$56.8 million recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon hatchery near Centreville on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia, has been approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NSDFA).

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The company said the decision followed an extensive administrative review process which included environmental, scientific and technical approvals by multiple provincial and federal regulatory authorities and a 30-day public comment period.

“We anticipate that it may take another year to secure all the required permitting and complete the engineering design,” said Cooke press spokesman Joel Richardson in a press release. “We are aiming to start construction in 2022 pending pandemic market conditions and permitting approvals.”

Three-year build

It is expected that the hatchery will take three years to build and create over 450 construction jobs. Once operational it will require approximately 16 new full-time, year-round positions, and another 18 indirect and induced jobs.

The facility will enhance marine salmon farming operations for Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd, Cooke’s Atlantic Canadian salmon farming division.

“We have been sustainably operating Atlantic salmon farms for over 23 years in Nova Scotia for food production, and our aim is to grow responsibly by taking a coordinated, thoughtful, science-based approach and going through all the appropriate licensing and permitting steps,” said Richardson.

“We were pleased to see so many of the businesses, organisations and local governments who we have worked with over the years express support of our growth in Nova Scotia.”

Supportive submissions

Supportive submissions were received by the NSDFA from the Town of Digby, Municipality of Digby, Digby Harbour Port Association, The Digby and Area Board of Trade, Bay Ferries Limited, Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, Town of Shelburne, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters NS Division, Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, and A.F. Theriault & Son Ltd.

Cooke said that since 2012 it had invested significantly in its operations in Nova Scotia, including capital infrastructure on marine farms and freshwater hatcheries, major expansions at both its feed manufacturing facility in Truro and seafood distribution facility in Dartmouth, and in research and development projects and community and student initiatives.