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Expansion of Indian Head Salmon Smolt Hatchery undergoing environmental assessment

This photo shows a section of the Indian Head Salmon Smolt Hatchery in Stephenville which is to be expanded if an environmental assessment gets approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment.
This photo shows a section of the Indian Head Salmon Smolt Hatchery in Stephenville which is to be expanded if an environmental assessment gets approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment. - Frank Gale

Plans are in the works for an expansion to the Indian Head Salmon Smolt Hatchery located near Port Harmon in Stephenville.

Northern Harvest Smolt Ltd. has applied to Municipal Affairs and Environment to carry out the expansion, which provides smolts to the licensed sea cages that belong to Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

Although the operation has been purchased by Marine Harvest, in Stephenville the company is still operating under Northern Harvest Smolt Ltd., and in the Coast of Bays Region under Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

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Half a million more: Northern Harvest Smolt hatchery increases production

A company representative, who didn’t want to be named, confirmed Northern Harvest Smolt has submitted documents to the provincial government to modernize and expand its hatchery facility in Stephenville.

This land based production facility will be comprised of the latest in recirculation technology and will allow Northern Harvest Sea Farms to fully utilize its licensed marine sites.

Marine Harvest has a commitment to innovation, environmental performance, and sustainable growth of aquaculture on the east coast of Canada, with significant investments planned for Newfoundland.

The spokesperson said the first step for this growth involves opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador to grow the industry, starting with improving and expanding the Stephenville facility to provide more and better quality smolt.

As part of the expansion, there will be more tanks at the facility to grow the smolt larger and introduce them to salt water before they are shipped off. The industry is now using larger smolt and by bringing salt water in to the operation in Stephenville, it creates an environment in the hatchery for the fish to be larger and better fit to transition from fresh to seawater.

The estimated cost of the work in Stephenville will be about $51 million, which will involve more sophisticated technology, employment in the building phases and more long term employment once the expansion goes into operation.

“All expansion leads to business opportunities on sea and on land in the province,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a wonderful thing for fish farming when people from Newfoundland can earn a living on or near the water.”

The Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment indicated the undertaking for the expansion was registered on July 17; the deadline for public comments is Aug. 21; and the minister’s decision is due by Aug. 31.

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