The government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has come out solidly behind Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd’s $250-million aquaculture project in the province, with Premier Dwight Ball announcing a $30-million government investment in the project.
The funding will be in the form of repayable loans.
Earlier this month, the project received final environmental approval, allowing construction to commence. Grieg NL aims to start operations in 2025.
While conservationists have expressed dismay over the government’s stake in an industry it’s supposed to be regulating, the executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, Mark Lane, says government investment in this case is no different than those in other sectors.
“If you look at oil and gas at its beginning 30 years ago in Newfoundland and Labrador, it took an equity investment from the provincial government to encourage people to come and try to produce oil here. Oil and gas is critical to Newfoundland and Labrador's economy today,” Lane tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).
“Those people who would tout that this is a conflict of interest, for the most part, are the same people who just simply don't support aquaculture,” he says.
Lane believes the province’s $30-million stake will return to the province in terms of jobs and taxes, and contribute to the GDP. “And for every job that's created directly through the aquaculture project either on the farm or in the hatchery, there's two-and-a-half to three jobs in spin-off industries,” he says.
Grieg NL expects the project to create 440 direct jobs at the farm and its processing facilities as well as 380 jobs in related sectors.
The Placentia Bay project is believed to be the largest open net-pen salmon aquaculture development proposed in Canada but Lane stopped short of calling it a game-changer for the province as farmed salmon producer.
“I don't think it's a game changer. If you look at the companies we already have here -- Northern Harvest, Cooke Aquauculture, Cold Ocean Salmon and Marine Harvest through the acquisition of Northern Harvest -- they are already doing things right. They're doing it to the utmost standards that are found anywhere else in the world. I think Grieg's addition to what we're already doing in the province will get us closer to where we want to go, which is to double the salmon production in the province,” he says.
The province produces roughly 25,000 tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon annually. “Grieg NL is a willing partner with the provincial Government in its strategy for advancing aquaculture with the goal of increasing salmon production to 50,000 metric tonnes annually, and doubling employment in an industry that is year-round and long-term,” the company said.
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