Canadian salmon producer Cooke Inc may be attempting to acquire Tasmanian salmon group Tassal, but it says its growth strategy remains focused locally as evidenced by its $256.2 million (CAD$330 million) investment in Atlantic Canada over the next five years.
“Cooke is investing globally including in our home country of Canada. We are targeting more acquisitions to expand our farmed and wild operations,” says Vice President of Public Relations at Cooke Inc, Joel Richardson. “I believe our $330M investment over five years is more than any of the foreign producers considering the region.”
“We believe in investing in rural coastal communities in all the locations where we operate across Atlantic Canada and the world,” he told SalmonBusiness. “Our aim is to grow responsibly through modest expansion, putting environmental sustainability and helping to build strong working waterfronts at the forefront of our growth strategy.”
New Brunswick investments
The salmon producer is allocating the bulk of the total amount – $147.6 million – to its operations in New Brunswick where it is headquartered. The amount includes the cost of upgrading its processing plant to increase fresh and frozen value-added product output for the retail market.
It is also constructing a $13.9-million land-based freshwater hatchery at Johnson Lake in Pennfield, New Brunswick. The facility is expected to be completed this year.
In addition, engineering and permitting are underway for a $42.7-million recirculating aquaculture system where it will grow post-smolts to reduce the time the fish spend in the sea cages. Cooke expects the facility, located in the Champlain Industrial Park near St Andrews, to be completed in 2024.
Nova Scotia investments
In Nova Scotia, where it operates through its subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon, Cooke is investing $81.5 million over the next five years. Of this amount, more than $58 million is earmarked for a land-based hatchery and post-smolt facility near Centreville on Digby Neck.
“This world-class recirculating aquaculture system investment is a multi-phased project that will take three years to complete and create over 450 construction jobs. There will also be upgrades to harvest vessels, seawater sites and equipment,” said Richardson.
In Newfoundland, Cooke Aquaculture will spend more than $27 million to expand its farming operations. “This includes investments in cleaner fish development for enhanced eco-friendly sea lice management as well as investments in automated farming, harvesting, and processing operations, as well as upgrades to seawater sites and equipment.”
Richardson said the balance of the $256M investment will be allocated for upgrades to harvest vessels, seawater sites and equipment.