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Spotlight on aquaculture


It’s a best-case scenario, but Grieg Seafarms NL Ltd. says salmon farmed in Placentia Bay could hit the market by late 2018.

Clyde Collier, project manager for Grieg Seafarms NL Ltd., said the company could start construction on a salmon hatchery in Marystown this fall, if all goes according to plan.

“I can see, if things go according to plan, tractors on the ground here this fall,” company project manager Clyde Collier said Thursday.

Collier, a presenter at the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Opportunity Placentia Bay: Get Connected trade show and conference, was referring to plans to build and operate a hatchery in Marystown.

“If that can happen, I can see us putting eggs in next spring/summer and that’ll put us at sea by 2017. If we can get to sea by 2017, we’ll have first product coming out for processing in early fall 2018,” he said.

“So that’s our goal, and so far we’ve been on schedule and we’ve not encountered any great obstacles.”

The conference and trade show was held at St. Gabriel’s Hall in Marystown Wednesday and Thursday.

Collier said Grieg is looking to construct the hatchery in Marystown’s marine industrial park and the farms in Placentia Bay.

Site assessments for both the hatchery and farms are ongoing, Collier said, as is a business plan.

The company is hoping to have engineering for the hatchery completed within the next couple of weeks, he said. There are some other matters to iron out, as well, such an agreement with the Town of Marystown and application approval by the provincial government.

The company is also waiting for the results of chemical testing on the water source for the hatchery.

BETTER OPPORTUNITY

According to Collier, Grieg was initially looking at sites on the southwest coast, in the Burgeo area, before turning to the east coast and Placentia Bay.

“It seems to be a much better opportunity for us,” he said.

Collier said capital costs associated with the proposed development are about $75 million.

The company plans to focus on the fish, he said, while outsourcing as many variables as possible, including fish processing, well boat service and net maintenance.

The project could create upwards of 600 jobs from 35,000 tonnes of production.

“I’m thinking that might be a fairly low estimate of what we’ll end up achieving,” Collier said.

Grieg, meanwhile, is also hoping to entice a Scandinavian fish feed manufacturing company to set up shop in Marystown.

CONSUMPTION GROWING

Mark Lane, executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA), spoke before Collier.

Consumption of seafood produced through farming continues to increase around the world and surpassed that of fish caught in the wild for the first time in human history last year, he said.

“The rate that aquaculture is growing is exponential, and it’s been so relatively consistently since the early ’90s,” Lane said.

The industry has allowed a number of rural Newfoundland communities – particularly along the south coast – to thrive once more, he said, proving the naysayers wrong in the process.

“We’ve had some issues, some learning curves, some growth pains, but we’re beyond that, and we grow the best salmon and the best trout in the world, because it’s done in deep, cold water, and it’s done in pristine ocean,” he said. “It’s done in a manner whereby we take great pride, and we’re leading the world, in Newfoundland and Labrador, in terms of aquaculture.”

BUILDING CREDIBILITY

Whereas last year’s first conference and trade show focused solely on the mining and oil and gas industries, aquaculture and manufacturing were also included this year, said Lisa McLeod, the chamber’s business manager.

Canada Fluorspar, Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association, Dynamic Air Shelters and Edwards and Associates were also among this year’s presenters. 

The event is billed as a prelude to the annual Placentia Bay Industrial Showcase held each September in the Placentia-Long Harbour area.

“We hope to get there at some point,” McLeod said of the well-established showcase.

“But of course it takes time to get that attention drawn to you and build up that credibility.”

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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