Grieg Seafoods offers insight into aquaculture operations in Newfoundland

They came dressed in fancy costumes and expensive shoes.

To visit the Greig Seafoods aquaculture facility in Marystown on Thursday, however, political and business leaders had to don shapeless white coveralls, rubber boots and blue gloves to ensure the salmon would be protected from human germs .

It was the grand opening day – an event delayed by COVID – and a chance for provincial and federal politicians, as well as Norway’s ambassador to Canada, to see what Grieg had built in Newfoundland and how it was working.

Jon Fredriksen (second from right), Norway’s Ambassador to Canada, was among the VIPs who visited Grieg’s aquaculture facility in Marystown on Thursday. – Barb Dean Simmons

VIPs included: Jon Elvedal Fredriksen, Ambassador of Norway to Canada; Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister responsible for ACOA; Senator Fabian Manning and Provincial Fisheries Minister Derrick Bragg.

It was a chance for them to see how the salmon is cared for as it grows from egg to smolt.

It was also an opportunity to show the water recirculation technology developed by the Israeli company AquaMaof.

According to Grieg, the patented technology is a “first of its kind” for the aquaculture industry and enables 100% water recirculation.

While water from an underground aquafer near the site feeds the system, water from the reservoirs is recirculated to reduce water consumption and ensure minimal water discharge to the surrounding environment.

“As little as 300 liters of water per minute are needed daily,” Grieg noted on his website.

ACOA Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor leans down to watch the young salmon at Grieg <a class=Seafoods facility in Marystown during the big rounds April 22. – Barb Dean Simmons” data-enhance=”true” src=”https://www.saltwire.com/image/media/photologue/photos/2022/4/22/a-look-inside-the-greig-seafoods-aquaculture-operation-in-ne_HlRrem5.jpg?cs=srgb&fit=clip&h=700&w=847&auto=compress%2Cenhance%2Cformat” srcset=”https://www.saltwire.com/image/media/photologue/photos/2022/4/22/a-look-inside-the-greig-seafoods-aquaculture-operation-in-ne_HlRrem5.jpg?fit=clip&h=700&w=847&auto=compress,https://www.saltwire.com/https://www.saltwire.com/format,https://www.saltwire.com/enhance 847w, https://www.saltwire.com/image/media/photologue/photos/2022/4/22/a-look-inside-the-greig-seafoods-aquaculture-operation-in-ne_HlRrem5.jpg?fit=clip&h=1400&w=1694&auto=compress,https://www.saltwire.com/https://www.saltwire.com/format,https://www.saltwire.com/enhance 1694w” style=”height: auto; width: auto;”/>
ACOA Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor leans down to watch the young salmon at Grieg Seafoods facility in Marystown during the big rounds April 22. – Barb Dean Simmons

According to AquaMoaf, the system reduces energy costs and “strict biosafety protocols and comprehensive environmental control allow for the elimination of antibiotics and chemicals in the process and high survival rates.”

Bragg says it’s these kinds of technological advances that make him confident in the safety of the aquaculture industry, despite the evidence provided by industry naysayers.

Bragg says sea cages are now made of steel nets and liners, and more companies are using underwater monitoring systems to monitor salmon and prevent escapes.

“We think they’ve made giant strides,” he said of the industry. “They took so many precautions.”

At 250,000 square feet, Grieg’s smolt building in Marystown is larger than any fish processing plant in Atlantic Canada.

In fact, the facility rivals WalMart’s largest store in North America, the one in Albany, New York, which is 260,000 square feet.

The fish have been swimming in the building’s 14 tanks for several months and will continue to grow there for a few more weeks before being transferred to sea cages in Placentia Bay later this year.

The goal is to produce 40,000 tonnes of salmon by 2030.

No one needs to twist Paul Pike’s arm for him to tout the benefits of aquaculture.

Pike served as mayor of St. Lawrence for several years before being elected Liberal MP for Burin-Grand Bank last year.

He is also parliamentary assistant to Prime Minister Andrew Furey and represented the Prime Minister at the Grieg event.

It was clear, however, that the longtime self-proclaimed aquaculture advocate was not reading from a prepared script when he shared his thoughts on what aquaculture has meant to the Burin Peninsula.

The Grieg Seafoods site in Marystown.  Guests invited to the inauguration on April 21, 2022 were able to visit the blue building.  - Seafood Grieg
The Grieg Seafoods site in Marystown. Guests invited to the inauguration on April 21, 2022 were able to visit the blue building. – Seafood Grieg

He said he stood up for the industry when involved in municipal politics and local economic development.

“We knew that if we were going to be diverse on the Burin Peninsula and create sustainability on the Burin Peninsula…then we as mayors had to champion that business. And that’s what we’ve done.

He said what Grieg has built gives local people the opportunity to live and work in their homes, in a place where water and fishing have always played a role in livelihoods.

Aquaculture allows more people to stay, he said.

“That you can make the dreams of so many Newfoundlanders who want to stay home come true is commendable,” he told Grieg officials. “We appreciate that.”

The company currently employs 85 people at its Marystown site.

They will look for more workers later as sea cages are built and placed in Placentia Bay.

Once the company moves forward with the construction of a post-smolt building, which is tentatively scheduled to start within the next two years, there will be temporary jobs during this phase.

Andreas Kvame, CEO of Grieg Seafoods, addresses guests at the grand opening of Grieg's salmon hatchery in Marystown on April 22.  - Barb Dean Simmons
Andreas Kvame, CEO of Grieg Seafoods, addresses guests at the grand opening of Grieg’s salmon hatchery in Marystown on April 22. – Barb Dean Simmons

Meanwhile, Andreas Kvame, CEO of Grieg, said the potential for aquaculture development in Canada is significant, given the marine geography.

For example, he said, in his rural hometown of Stavanger, Norway, annual salmon production is 90,000 tonnes.

Compared to Stavanger, he said, Placentia Bay is four times larger.

“It can give you an idea of ​​what you can be in the blue economy.”

There have been some challenges since Grieg started at Marystown. Last year, the company had to slaughter a million salmon after detecting a case of anemia in a fish.

He also had to deal with an allegation that he had polluted a local stream.

With more than $160 million invested in its Newfoundland operations so far, the company says it’s ready for the long haul.

“We are looking for a bright future, a long future in Newfoundland,” Kvame said Thursday.

What they have built so far is only a first step, he added.

“There’s more to come.”


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Tanya S. Norvell