Two salmon farm-factory projects in Pas-de-Calais spark controversy

“No to intensive fish farming in Boulonnais” : It is behind this slogan that residents, associations, elected officials gathered, Saturday, October 30, to denounce the project of the Pure Salmon company, in Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais). A “farm-factory”, as its detractors call it, which should be able to produce 10,000 tonnes of fish per year.

“The 10,000 tonnes of salmon that Pure Salmon wishes to produce can be compared to the 30,000 tonnes of fish landed each year by fishermen in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer”, estimates Denis Buhagiar, elected EELV to the community of agglomeration of Boulonnais (CAB) and actor of the mobilization. With the other demonstrators, he was to submit a petition against the project to the prefecture, which collected 63,000 signatures. Opponents criticize the excessive consumption of water and energy from this intensive breeding, stress the risks of pollution and animal suffering, not to mention the artificialization of agricultural land.

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In fact, the Pure Salmon aquaculture initiative was officially presented in early 2020, during the Choose France event, chaired by Emmanuel Macron. On this occasion, the foreign groups wishing to set up in France are welcomed with open arms. However, the financier of this large-scale salmon farming is none other than the Singaporean investment fund 8F Asset Management.

143 million euros invested

Created in 2016, it raised $ 360 million (€ 311.4 million) in 2020, then an additional $ 60 million in September 2021, to develop Pure Salmon. In its turn is the Israeli company AquaMaof, instigator of closed-circuit aquaculture technology, selected by 8F. The water is, in fact, pumped, filtered and re-oxygenated, to be reused in basins built on dry land, unlike in sea farms. Pure Salmon says it has tested its concept in a first pilot installation in Poland. It is now targeting, in full scale, France, Japan, the United States and the Middle East.

The water needs of the aquaculture farm are equivalent to the annual consumption of 10,000 inhabitants

To carry out the project in Boulogne-sur-Mer, it recruited Xavier Govare, the former boss of the company Labeyrie, appointed president of Pure Salmon France. The company says it is ready to invest 143 million euros in its land-based aquaculture farm, including a hatchery, a breeding unit and a processing workshop, and promises a hundred jobs. In February, Frédéric Cuvillier, PS president of the CAB, voted for the promise to sell the land required for this establishment. That is to say more than 15 hectares predominantly agricultural, located in the Landacres business park, straddling two communes of Pas-de-Calais, Baincthun and Hesdin-l’Abbé. To facilitate the establishment, a discount of 25% was applied to the sale price of the land, sold for 2 million euros.

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Two salmon farm-factory projects in Pas-de-Calais spark controversy

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