Closing loophole will help give wild Atlantic salmon fighting chance at recovery, groups say
St. John’s/Located on Ktaqmkuk, unceded, traditional territory of the Beothuk and Mi’kmaq Peoples – Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of salmon conservation groups and concerned individuals, will be at the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal tomorrow to defend the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s precedent-setting ruling that confirmed aquaculture projects in the province must undergo a robust and comprehensive environmental assessment before they can proceed.
The groups say that all marine salmon farming activities associated with new land-based projects, including the Indian Head Hatchery expansion project, should be required to have a proper environmental review — regardless of whether the activities require new licenses or infrastructure.
In November 2019, Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of their clients, went to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to argue that the environmental assessment for the Indian Head Hatchery expansion should include the project’s marine portion — the addition of 2.2 million salmon smolt to open-net pens off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Representatives from Ecojustice and the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, the Freshwater-Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation, the Port Au Port Bay Fishery Committee, Alan Pickersgill, John Baird and Wayne Holloway made the following statement in advance of the hearing.
Sarah McDonald, Ecojustice lawyer said:
“We’re heading to court to defend the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s ruling and ensure the provincial government does not continue to give multinational corporations a free pass to use regulatory shortcuts to avoid robust and comprehensive environmental assessments.
“Wild Atlantic salmon stocks have declined 45 per cent since 2015. We need to make sure the glaring loophole in Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquaculture policy remains closed and wild Atlantic salmon populations are given a fighting chance at recovery.”
John Baird, President of the Freshwater-Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation said:
“When aquaculture projects can expand in Newfoundland and Labrador without assessing the devastating impacts open-net salmon farming can have on wild fish stocks, it endangers the fate of wild salmon on the south coast along with other species and coastal ecosystems.
“We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s ruling will be upheld for the benefit of wild Atlantic salmon.”
- In July 2018, Northern Harvest Smolt Ltd, a subsidiary of Mowi Canada East (also known as Marine Harvest) registered its Indian Head Hatchery Expansion Project for environmental assessment.
- The environmental assessment registration document discusses upgrades to the facility but fails to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of transferring an additional 2.2 million farmed salmon to Newfoundland’s coastal waters.
- In early September 2018, Andrew Parsons, then Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Environment released the Indian Head Hatchery Expansion Project from further environmental assessment under the EPA.
- On November 5, 2018, Ecojustice submitted a written appeal to the Minister on behalf of 10 clients, including several local Newfoundland ENGOs, three individuals, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. That appeal was denied on December 5th.
- On March 29, 2019, Ecojustice, on behalf of the Salmonid Association of Eastern Newfoundland, the Freshwater-Alexander Bays Ecosystem Corporation, the Port Au Port Bay Fishery Committee, Alan Pickersgill, John Baird and Wayne Holloway brought an application for judicial review.
- The case was heard by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s, NL on November 6-7, 2019.