AquaBounty has received approval from the P.E.I. government to raise genetically modified (GM) salmon at its site in Rollo Bay West.
Raising the GM salmon, known as AquaAdvantage, at the Island site wasn’t part of the original proposal, but the provincial government allowed the Massachusetts-based company to amend its proposal.
Construction of two 40,000 square-foot buildings on the site is already under way. The project is expected to cost in the range of $13 million.
The salmon have been approved for sale in both Canada and the United States, making them the first genetically modified animals to be deemed safe for human consumption.
According to the environmental impact assessment conducted by Joose Environmental, AquaBounty will rear its sterile GM salmon from eyed egg to market size. The site will operate using recirculated groundwater. Effluent from the facility will be screened using multiple mechanical barriers, and various pieces of dewatering and sludge concentrating equipment. Sludge would be stored on-site to be repurposed later. Clear water would be introduced to a pond or constructed wetland and eventually discharged into the adjacent stream.
Communities, Land and Environment Minister Robert Mitchell says a full environmental review isn’t needed, but did attach some conditions. AquaBounty is required for the next two years to sample on a monthly basis both the water going into the facility from the nearby stream and the effluent before it’s discharged.
It must also develop a plan to deal with any escape of fish from the facility and have it approved before any GM fish are housed in the facility.
The fish will not be required to be labelled as GM when they reach the marketplace. Health Canada has ruled no health risk or significant nutritional change was identified in food derived from AquAdvantage salmon. The decision of whether to proceed with voluntary labelling belongs with the company.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has rejected calls from several environmental groups calling for a federal environmental review.