Judge sides with ecologists on environmental assessment for salmon hatchery

A Newfoundland judge has ruled that the province’s former environment minister acted unreasonably when he allowed a salmon hatchery to proceed without further environmental assessment.

The proposed Indian Head hatchery in Stephenville would see more than 2 million salmon placed into existing sea cages owned by Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

Lawyers on behalf of a group of wildlife advocates argued last fall that the minister’s decision was not valid because he did not consider the impacts when the hatched fish are released into sea cages.

Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Justice Daniel Boone concluded that former minister Andrew Parsons’ decision to release the project from assessment without considering the sea cages did not reflect a “rational chain of analysis.”

He quashed the minister’s decision in his Feb. 27 judgment.

A lawyer for the province had argued that the company was legally entitled to make revisions to its proposal, making the case that because the sea cages were already licensed, additional assessment of the facilities was not justified.

Environmental law group Ecojustice, which provided counsel to the applicants, said the ruling in favour of comprehensive assessments shows the province needs to strengthen its regulations.

“(The) result closes a glaring loophole in the way aquaculture is regulated in the province and will help minimize threats to wild salmon,” Ecojustice lawyer Sarah McDonald said in a statement.

Source: Read Full Article