Grieg Seafoods is moving closer to goal of moving 3 million farmed salmon into pens, says CEO

Andreas Kvame is the CEO of Grieg Seafood, based in Norway. (Todd O’Brien/CBC)

Grieg Seafood is closing in on transferring young farmed Atlantic salmon to its sea cages in Placentia Bay — another step forward for the big operation, which is expected to produce 45,000 metric tons of fish annually by 2030.

Grieg CEO Andreas Kvame was in St. John’s this week to discuss developments. Last year, infectious salmon anemia was discovered in one of the fish destined for a sea cage and delayed the operation for a year. At the time, the company culled one million fish as a result of the discovery.

“We are developing very well now on the land side in Marystown. We have almost three million fish there,” Kvame said.

“Our focus now is to set up the operation by the sea.”

Kvame said next steps include setting up the actual infrastructure needed to house the salmon, including pens, nets and the feeding system.

He said the plan was to move the roughly three million fish into the cages by May, depending on the temperature.

The short-term goal is to harvest 15,000 metric tonnes of fish per year by 2025 and 45,000 tonnes per year by 2030. And with the operation, Kvame said, comes jobs.

“It’s absolutely realistic and possible to do that, and that means when we’re up and running there will be between 580 and 600 people employed directly or indirectly in this industry for us,” Kvame said.

Norwegian company Grieg Seafood plans to harvest 45,000 tons of salmon a year by 2030. (Northern Harvest Sea Farms)

Once the salmon have reached maturity, they will then need to be harvested and processed. Kvame said most of this process will also take place locally.

He said the company is already working on different local opportunities, with the first fish expected to come out of the water in the fall of 2023. The goal is to process 80% of the fish in Newfoundland, with North America being the main market. .

The Grieg Group of Companies — Grieg NL is its division in Newfoundland and Labrador — is based in Norway and is one of the world’s leading farmed salmon production companies.

Kvame said his visit to St. John’s this week is to discuss how Canada can be a major exporter of farmed salmon. The company also has operations in British Columbia, which faces its own challenges at the federal level as the government seeks to move away from open-canopy farming in that region.

But that doesn’t stop Kvame from targeting Grieg on the country’s potential.

“We believe very much in Canada. The temperature profile that we have in Canada, both on the west coast and the east coast of Canada, is really an advantage for farmed salmon,” he said.

“There aren’t many places where you can do it in the sea. It’s the most energy-efficient way to do it. … We think there’s huge potential to develop the blue economy in this region.”

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Tanya S. Norvell