In a news release Monday, the group said Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd.’s plan to produce up to seven million farmed fish annually has the potential to wipe out the remaining wild Atlantic salmon in the bay through disease, sea lice infestation an interbreeding.
“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has failed to abide by its own laws in not ordering a full environmental impact statement,” said Steve Sutton, ASF’s community outreach and engagement coordinator.
“This project sets a precedent by allowing foreign strains of farmed salmon to be raised in sea cages and could have a ripple effect in Canada.”
Environment and Conservation Minister Perry Trimper’s decision to release the project was announced late Friday afternoon.
The ASF news release stated Newfoundland and Labrador’s Environmental Assessment Regulations are clear that a full environmental impact statement is required if a project poses significant environmental risks of raises public concern.
“In this case there are both serious risks and huge concern from Newfoundlanders. Grieg is planning to use Icelandic strains of Atlantic salmon in untested open net pens among a ‘threatened’ population of wild Atlantic salmon,” Sutton said.
“By not ordering an EIS, the minister is limiting public involvement, scientific knowledge and opportunities to monitor and mitigate impacts.”
Jonathan Carr, ASF’s executive director of research and environment, said the Placentia Bay project marks the first time in Canada that foreign strains of salmon will commercially raised next to wild fish.
“The company says the farmed salmon will be rendered sterile. However, there is no 100 per cent effective way of doing this, leaving the potential for thousands of fertile farmed salmon to escape and interbreed with wild salmon, weakening the gene pool of an already threatened population,” Carr said.
“There are also uncertainties about the disease resistance of the introduced fish and their potential to spread sickness to wild fish in the region. And the security of the net pens that Grieg is proposing to use has not been tested in the harsh Newfoundland marine environment.”
The news release said the ASF is considering all options available to ensure the project is property scrutinized.