Cooke Aquaculture proposes new $30 million facility in Bayside

Submitted photo Cooke Aquaculture’s proposed $30 million facility in Bayside, NB.

Bayside – Last Tuesday, Feb. 12, Cooke Aquaculture made a presentation to the Chamcook Watershed Landowners’ Association about a potential new investment in the Bayside port area.

Joel Richardson, vice president of public relations for Cooke, said that Kelly Cove Salmon, a subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture Inc., is in the early planning stages to build a $30 million recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) post-smolt facility in the Champlain Industrial Park located in Bayside, NB. The facility will use the most advanced water recirculation technology available.

He added, “We believe it will be the first facility to use this technology in Canada,” and the purpose of the facility is to grow salmon larger on land, prior to their transfer to salt water farming pens.

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Currently salmon smolt are transferred when they weigh around 120 grams. This facility will help them grow to be at least 300 grams. From there, smolts will be loaded directly onto a well boat to be taken to salt water farming pens, which is a big benefit to the coastal location in the Champlain Industrial Park.

“This type of facility fits with the existing activities of the Bayside port,” said Richardson.

“Science shows that adding stronger, larger fish to the net pens reduces the chances of fish health issues. This new facility will help to reduce fish handling, reduce time at sea and reduce days to market.”

Members of the Kelly Cove Salmon project team met with MLA Greg Thompson in January, and the Minister requested the team meet with the Chamcook Watershed Landowners’ Association, other local stakeholders, and the public to gather input.

Alex Henderson, of the Regional Service Commission, said, “In recent years we’ve seen a lot more on-land aquaculture facilities being proposed in our region.

“With the way the technology is going, we expect more and bigger facilities in the future. The Southwest NB Service Commission planning division is looking into how and where to best accommodate the larger scale versions of these facilities so that the environment and residential areas are being protected.

On Tuesday the project proposal, design, and water requirements were presented to representatives of the Chamcook Watershed Landowners’ Association and other key local stakeholders including Eastern Charlotte Waterways, Regional Service Commission, Bayside LSD, the Town of Saint Andrews and the Atlantic Salmon Federation and received no objections.

“In fact, they expressed support for the proposed post-smolt facility in the Champlain Industrial Park – particularly given our water requirements are so low compared to the previous Atlantic Salmon Federation flow through system utilizing the Chamcook watershed and that Kelly Cove Salmon would be utilizing the most modern recirculating aquaculture system technology available,” said Richardson.

In terms of next steps, Kelly Cove Salmon has applied to the NB Department of Environment and local government to drill additional wells for water testing and supply in the Chamcook watershed. The facility would not draw water from Chamcook Lake but rather from deeper groundwater wells located further into the watershed. Richardson says that this approach is comparable to formerly active wells used to supply businesses in the Champlain Industrial Park.

If well testing shows the facility’s water requirements can be met and the project viability proves sound, Kelly Cove Salmon could then register to the province for an Environmental Impact Assessment. As part of the EIA process, Kelly Cove Salmon would advertise and hold a public meeting for additional community input.

“This new Bayside facility is an important component of our vision for the future to invest locally which could see $198 million spent on upgrade projects and create approximately 258 new, full time jobs in New Brunswick over five years,” said Richardson.

The proposed facility in Bayside would employ roughly 15 people full time once completed.

andrewsutton@stcroixcourier.ca