Assessments over Salmon

by AJany on November 22, 2015 - 5:03pm

In Marystown Newfoundland a Salmon aquaculture project is being subject to reassessment on its environmental project submission. Greig Nurseries N.L Ltd, the company proposing the project failed to include a component of their project in the submission for environmental assessment (sea cage component).  The department of Environment and conservation stated “an environmental assessment cannot continue unless a description of the entire project is registered when engaged in farm raising fish or shellfish”. This oversight has put pressure on the project to be resubmitted for a full environmental assessment. However the option to simply add to the current proposal is also a possibility, both will require a period of pubic review before a final decision can be made.

            The use of an environmental assessment in this case of aquaculture must really be careful to assure the public of proper environmental consideration. The use of an environmental assessment as a management tool is apparent and touches on the component of public consultation as a possible conflict in this project completion. There is a lack in conflict consideration evident in the chosen approach of the company. By skipping such a crucial step they failed to enter into proper assessment procedure because they either wanted to go quickly through the process or simply didn’t care to look twice. This results in a careless attempt to produce decisions that the public trusts, and will therefore be more eager to support. This could move to have people hold different understandings of the situation, labeling such a conclusion as a cognitive conflict. The possibility for conflict in this situation seems to be growing, pairing distrust with uncertainty between private and public sectors could amp up the stress in the project. The management of an aquaculture farm will require much environmental assessment to understand its possible impacts on the surrounding ecosystem it will be part of. Although contained, the Salmon will still be sharing their waters with other organisms. Organisms that can be affected by the aquaculture industry even as stated on the Canadian aquaculture site “aquaculture posed the lightest environmental affect”, this is not a specific statement. The completion of a proper environmental assessment is crucial to ease the minds of all those involved privately and publicly, but also crucial to the state of the environment. By catching this missing component hopefully a more thorough assessment will be enacted.

            The case of the Marystown aquaculture project proposal brings to light the kind of  proper procedure that is necessary to have accurate monitoring of our natural resources and the kinds of stressors that present themselves in these situations. Through careful inspection of these kinds of projects positive impacts can be increased economically, environmentally and socially on the local and national level.


In reading over the original article you summarized, I enjoyed that they seemed to stress the importance of public consultation in the revised proposal for the aquaculture facility, stating:
"Davis also stressed the importance of public consultation in the revised environmental assessment.
"We need to look and and consider all the potential eventualities, and we do that by talking to people who know the waters best and the potential for impacts best, and that will be part of the process," he said" (1)
As discussed in class, public participation can lead to improved empowerment and equity, enhanced community capacity, and enhanced learning and innovation. Particularly in regions that are inhabited my aboriginal peoples who have been living on the land for a long period of time, and who have a breadth of traditional ecological knowledge to offer. Greater public consultation can result in improved environmental governance when done right, as it can increase the type and variety of knowledge taken into consideration, identify a wide array of perspectives and values, encourage balanced decision making, manage conflict, and ensure social stability.
In the case of the Marystown aquaculture facility, I am glad to see that the government stepped in to ensure that all the necessary components of the proposal were included before approving the project. All too often we see that precautionary measures can be ignored in order to fast-track a project and begin to profit immediately. I would be interested to know who is responsible for conducting the environmental assessment after the proposal has been submitted correctly- whether it is the government or a private consulting firm, and how their biases and objectives may play into how it is conducted.


About the author

3rd year International Development student, with a focus on environmental development, at the University of Guelph, in ON Canada.