Council backs fish farm bids

Letter of support to be sent to authority reviewing application by Grieg Seafoods for two farms in Clio Channel

City council is supporting Grieg Seafood in its bid to create two new fish farms.

Council voted to send a letter to the regulators reviewing Grieg Seafood’s application, requesting that the decision makers consider the socio-economic impacts to the city in handing down their judgement.

Grieg Seafood, whose head office is located in Campbell River, is proposing to operate two salmon farms in Clio Channel – within an area approved for aquaculture. Marilyn Hutchinson, a director with Grieg Seafood, said the company already has a salmon farm in the area that has been in operation for seven years.

“Further, Grieg has signed a long-term agreement with the Tlowitsis Tribe, in whose traditional territory all the farms would be located, and enjoys a positive relationship with the nation’s council,” Hutchinson wrote in a letter to city council.

But Coun. Michele Babchuk wanted to know about the status of a moratorium placed on fish farm expansion in the region.

Mayor Andy Adams said he was under the impression that applications are starting to move forward again.

“My understanding is there was a moratorium but now the provincial and federal governments are reviewing applications and taking a look based on the site and merits,” Adams said.

Coun. Larry Samson added that the hold up was on the provincial government’s end.

“Now the provincial government is slowly starting to address these (expansions) that the fish farms are wanting to see,” he said. “The provincial government and federal government have given the green light to go ahead.”And that’s welcome news to some on council.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he supports Grieg’s initiative as the aquaculture industry means a lot to the community.“It is important to us here and the industry is important to us as a city,” he said.

Campbell River is home to three of B.C.’s largest salmon farming companies whose headquarters employ around 890 people. Campbell River is the hub for Grieg’s equipment sales and repair, aviation, truck and barge transport service.

In 2013, Grieg Seafood spent $71 million on service providers and contractors, mostly located in the North Island. Grieg’s annual payroll is more than $6 million, with employees working in more than a dozen North Vancouver Island communities including two aboriginal communities.