Aquatic studies will determine future of salmon farm plan

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Results from water studies currently underway for a proposed 500,000-square-foot land-based recycling salmon farm north of Wiarton will determine the next steps of the project, says the company’s chief executive behind the plan.

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Gerry Sullivan, president of Georgian Bay Salmon, said the company is working with senior government officials to ensure that the proposed recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) complies with all provincial and federal guidelines, including those related to the dismissal of the system in Colpoy’s Bay.

“Everything is based on the environmental analysis and making sure it fits well,” he said Wednesday. “Our preliminary findings we made look like this, but until the full models are complete, we can not say if it is or not. That is the magic trigger that determines whether the project will or will not. works. “

Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd., aquatic and environmental consultants for the project, collected water samples from the bay in August, September and November, said Deborah Sinclair, senior aquaculture scientist at the company.

The samples were analyzed for general chemistry and nutrients to determine the water quality of Colpoy’s Bay.

She said the company is now conducting mixing zone modeling to assess how the dewatering of the fish farm will mix with the bay, as well as an assessment of the fishery to determine the impact of the dewatering on fish and fish habitat.

Sullivan said the mixed-zone study will be submitted to the Department of Environment, Conservation and Parks for approval of environmental compliance for disposal.

“There is a mixed zone model that the province is following. “As the water is released, it must disappear within the defined zone and in accordance with the water to ensure that there is no impact on the water body,” he said.

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“That’s really what determines everything is that mixing zone and make sure that anything that comes from our facility when it mixes with the zone meets all the requirements – everything from phosphorus to water temperature.”

Sinclair said the advisers will use the Department of the Environment’s documents describing requirements for discharges to surface water along with the results of mixing zone models to recommend discharge concentrations that comply with the ministry’s guidelines and policies.

Sullivan said he expects the study to be completed and sent to the county for approval within the first three months of this year.

“The (ministry) of environment are the ones who decide whether the project can move forward in its current structure, if it needs to change or if it just does not fit well,” he said.

The fisheries study will be submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Ocean, also in the first quarter of 2022, he said.

Representatives of Georgian Bay Salmon, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Georgian Bay Innovation Group, held two public information sessions on the salmon farm proposal in December at the Wiarton Propeller Club.

The meetings were intended to provide information on the concept of the project, the process of the recycling aquaculture system and the environmental studies of the company in the area.

Sullivan said about 120 people attended a session on Dec. 9, while about 60 attended a Dec. 14 meeting.

He said the majority of questions and concerns received during the sessions related to the potential impact of the project on Colpoy’s Bay and the local environment.

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The civil action group Bruce Peninsula Water Watch, which created the website smellsfishy.org, has expressed concern about the proposal for salmon farming and the environmental impact of the operation.

Spokesman Dan Boisvert said the group’s biggest concern is how the redundancy will affect Colpoy’s Bay.

“There should be no degradation of the water quality in that bay at all. Nobody should be willing to compromise that, “he said.

“We’ve always been over the water – we worry about what they want to do with the bay. You have 4,000 people getting drinking water from that bay.”

Boisvert says the idea of ​​the mixing zone, defined by the province as a water area at a point source where the water quality does not meet one or more provincial water quality goals, does not inspire much confidence in the project.

The province says the use of mixing zones should be minimal and limited to conventional damage. Conditions within the zone should not result in irreversible environmental damage, risk to the integrity of the ecosystem or risk to human health.

Sullivan said another round of public engagement meetings will take place once the mix studies are completed and submitted to the county.

Boisvert said he did not think Georgian Bay Salmon answered many of the public’s questions at the December meetings and left most attendees with more questions than they had when they arrived.

He said smellsfishy.org saw a spike in visitors to the meetings and that the group also saw a significant increase in people signing a petition demanding a stop to the Georgian Bay Salmon plan to get water out of the bay to take.

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Georgian Bay Salmon’s proposal is to build a single-story fish farm at 83 Berford Lake Rd.

When fully operational, it will produce 15,000 metric tons of non-GMO Atlantic salmon annually, with 85,000 salmon eggs hatched weekly, the company says.

The company said the fish farm would absorb 1,300 liters of water per minute with 1,100 liters per minute discharged and 200 liters per minute lost due to evaporation.

The recycling aquaculture system recycles 99.98 percent of the water, the company says, and has a built-in water purification center.

The inlet and outlet lines of the system are planned to be put half a mile into the bay. Saugeen Ojibway Nation.

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