Cooke’s planned post-smolt facility balloons to $53M amidst inflation

Engineering and permitting is underway for Cooke Aquaculture’s proposed land-based post-smolt facility in the Canadian province of New Brunswick but soaring prices have upped its original budget by nearly 30 percent to $53 million.

Early this week, a public consultation on the project planned to be built in an industrial park near the town of St Andrews heard concerns about the potential impact on the local water supply.

But Cooke assured the community that a new technology will now allow the proposed facility to draw less freshwater from the aquifer if the project moves ahead, reported the Telegraph Journal.

“Cooke is growing responsibly in New Brunswick by taking a coordinated, thoughtful, science-based approach and going through all the appropriate licensing and permitting steps,”  Joel Richardson, vice-president of public relations for Cooke Aquaculture, told SalmonBusiness.

“Hybrid systems, involving a mix of land and marine-based fish farming will continue to be part of our future. We have been operating land-based salmon hatcheries and marine farms sustainably for 37 years.”

But he acknowledged that while the engineering and technology has advanced, they’re also more expensive now than when the project was first proposed in 2017.

Conceptual rendering of the 100,000-sq-ft post-smolt hatchery to be operated by Cooke subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon. Photo: Cooke Inc

The recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility will allow Cooke to transfer bigger (over 500 grams) and more robust smolts  to its sea sites and reduce the time they spend in the sea.

Richardson expects the environmental impact assessment to completed by December, after which the company will know from the province if the project is approved.

If approved, construction of the RAS facility could take two to three years. The salmon producer expects the project could create 250 construction jobs and as many as 12 full-time jobs at the facility.


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