Saturday, 18 November 2017

Conflict of Interest - Government Stands with Grieg Seafood Against the People of NL

You may have heard that the government of Newfoundland is the latest government to have a conflict of interest with a fish farm company, in this case Grieg Seafood, against its own public opposition.

If you can believe it, it is appealing a decision by the court to require an Environmental Impact Statement on a mega-project by Grieg in Placentia Bay, for, get this, 11 full fish farms, not one or even two, but an almost dozen in one bay.

See the Atlantic Salmon Federations take on this unfolding disaster:

"By Mark Quinn, CBC News Posted: Nov 16, 2017 8:01 AM NT

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says a judge failed to see that it was reasonable for the province's environment minister to release a massive Placentia Bay salmon farm proposal from further environmental assessment."

Reasonable? To whom? a Conflicted government? A government in opposition to the position of its own  people?

Both Grieg and the NL government argue that the judge who required an EIS misinterpreted the NL law:

"They argue the minister's decision was reasonable because Fisheries and Oceans Canada and provincial regulations would prevent the project from causing environmental damage."

Pardon me for laughing so hard I had to hold my sides from the pain of this 'wry humour.' No government in the world has done any such thing that prevents environmental damage. The only time you know there is damage is after it has happened. For example, lice out of control, diseases, escapes, sewage, peroxide, lice chemicals, antibiotics, the list goes on.

No government in the world has laws that can stop the problems happening, let alone before they happen. Recall the Scotland (10 million dead fish) and Norway (18 million dead fish) fish losses to lice in 2016, along with Chile (25 million dead fish) due to an algal bloom, caused in part by its own sewage, and by dumping 75,000mt of dead fish too close off shore. Together they made the world supply of farmed salmon drop 8.7%.

And Norway no longer allows new licences in the oceans because the fish farms are so polluting. It is offering on-land licences for free, a $9- to $12-million subsidy. So why is Canada offering in-ocean licences anymore?

Laws preventing fish farm damage before it happens? That's a non-starter. In Norway, the escape losses are so high, and fish farms don't report them so frequently, that the government finally started DNA testing escaped fish and fining the company that did not report the escape. These companies include Marine Harvest, Cermaq and Grieg Seafood.

"They [NL government and Grieg] also argue that the [sic] Butler [the judge]failed to show deference to the minister's interpretation of the regulations."

Is this convoluted logic or what? after all the purpose of an EIS is to establish whether there is a potential impact. It's pretty straight forward.

On the ASF/public side, they say: ""The applications judge correctly concluded that the minister lacked jurisdiction to release the project, as the only possible conclusion he could reach was that the project had both significant public concerns and the potential for significant negative environmental effects requiring an EIS," says the federation's factum."

Hmm. Seems like the govt against its own public.

IN summary these are the issues:

"Grieg NL wants to produce 33,000 tonnes of salmon annually at 11 sea cage sites around Placentia Bay. The project also includes a $75-million land-based hatchery/nursery in Marystown that would raise fish to stock the sea cages.

Grieg expects the project to create more than 300 direct jobs.[Let me add that job numbers are usually vastly inflated by fish farms. It is accepted in the industry that 10 people are required to build and begin operating a fish farm, that means 10 X 11 = 110, only about 37% of Grieg's claim - there would be a few at the hatchery, also. Then, once lights and feeding equipment are put in, the number of jobs drops to 2 per site, or 2 X 11 = 22, or only 7.3% of what Grieg claims. Yes, 7.3%, the estimates are usually that bad.]

When the Conservatives were still in power they promised to buy a $45-million-dollar equity stake in Grieg's quarter of a billion dollar project.

The current Liberal provincial government hasn't followed through on that promise. It said it's still considering whether it will make that investment or not.

A coalition of groups that wants stricter regulation of the aquaculture industry said it would be a conflict of interest for the province to own part of the industry and regulate it."

Now the former and current government is in a conflict of interest against its own environment and its own people. It's little wonder that people who have to live with fish farms come to overwhelmingly reject them. Ditto for the Norwegian govt that no longer issues licences for the ocean, only a special class with special environmental mitigation features. The free on-land licences represent a $9- to $12-million subsidy each, based on the previous in-ocean auction price.

Marine Harvest is investing $100 million in closed containment. Hey, NL government, why don't you get Marine Harvest to use some of its own money - not from the government - to set up on land, or at least use the 'egg' concept and make them treat sewage on shore. And skip dealing with Grieg who knows its getting such a good deal they are tripping the light fandango as we used to sing.

Even on licences Grieg is getting a fabulous deal. The range for eleven farms is this: $9M X 11 = $99M, to $12M X 11 = $132 Million in licence fees. Don't give them another dime, and don't let them set up in the water. Even Cermaq is putting together 'flexifarms.' What is the matter with Grieg? Just start talking with the other companies.

This is the chronology of the case so far. Note the link to CBC at the bottom:

Chronology of the court battle

Feb. 19, 2016 — Grieg Nursuries Ltd. and Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd.  Placentia Bay Atlantic Salmon aquaculture project registered by the provincial Department of Environment and Conservation.

July 2016 — Then-environment minister Perry Trimper released Grieg's proposal from having to carry out further environmental assessment through an Environment Impact Statement.

August 2016 — Lawyer Owen Myers and the Atlantic Salmon Federation  challenged the minister's decision in court.

July 2017 — Supreme Court Judge Butler ruled that it was not reasonable for the minister to release Grieg from further environmental assessment and ordered an EIS.

August 2017 — The province announced it will appeal the Supreme Court decision.

Dec. 14-15 — Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal scheduled to hear the appeal.

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