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A defence of aquaculture in Placentia Bay

As the Burin Peninsula and surrounding region prepares to welcome a state of the art protein production industry, Placentia Bay Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Project, proposed by Grieg NL, opposition continues to shadow the project.

Many of those opposed are presenting theories and ideas that are out dated and ill informed, amounting to nothing more than fear mongering. The region and entire province requires strong scientific data and facts, to make informed decisions.

Newfoundland has been slowly developing an aquaculture industry for the last 30 years with millions of dollars of government money invested in aquaculture research, development and infrastructure. Schooner Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) commissioned a study of aquaculture and fisheries potential for selected areas of Placentia and Fortune Bay, released March 1999. SRDC even employed an aquaculture and emerging fisheries development officer for a number of years to try and promote aquaculture in our region.

The region now has an opportunity to access world-renowned, innovative aquaculture technology developed, tested and proven in Norway over the past 30 years, through Grieg NL.

Newfoundland’s aquaculture industry developed relatively recently compared to other jurisdictions in North America and has had the advantage of learning from other regions catastrophic failures, both economically and environmentally. To that end the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has done an outstanding job of implementing regulations with support to aid in compliance. Newfoundland and Labrador has a strong aquaculture regulatory framework.

Notwithstanding good regulation, those opposed to this project seem to assume that we are doomed to repeat past mistakes from other jurisdictions. Aquaculturists rely on clean seawater and require clean bays and fjords for continued seafood production. Therefore, they must be environmental stewards, and no one will be as concerned about the health of the Placentia Bay marine environment more than Grieg.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report, “The State of the World Fisheries 2016,” states: “Fisheries and aquaculture remain important sources of food, nutrition, income and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world. World per capita fish supply reached a new record high of 20 kg in 2014, thanks to vigorous growth in aquaculture, which now provides half of all fish for human consumption.”

Aquaculture can provide adequate nutrition and food security for a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. There is limited room for expansion in terrestrial agriculture and arable land is decreasing worldwide. To meet the growing demand for protein production, aquaculture can continue to expand. Newfoundland and Labrador has the available coastline to lead North America in protein production.

Norway is the world’s leading producer of Atlantic salmon and the second largest seafood exporter in the world (2014, The Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries). Norway’s long and jagged coastline, surrounded by cold, fresh seawater, provides excellent conditions for aquaculture activities.

Newfoundland has the same renewable resource available for use and we should be excited about the possibility of technology transfer from the world’s leader in Atlantic salmon aquaculture.

Leon Fiander

M.Sc. environmental science


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