Cooke Aquaculture announced plans Friday to expand and upgrade its hatcheries in southern New Brunswick with about $5.6 million in funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

According to a statement, the funding and upgrades are part of Cooke Aquaculture’s five-year plan to invest $500 million in Atlantic Canada.

The firm continues to benefit from government largess, including a controversial $25 million package from the Nova Scotia government, which was tied to a salmon processing plant and 400 jobs promised to Shelburne County. Cooke later reneged on that part of the agreement.

The firm was also recently fined $445,000 (CDN) by the U.S. government for a major salmon escape in Washington State. In 2011, Cooke CEO and other executives pleaded guilty to federal felonies of dumping gallons of deadly pesticides into the Bay of Fundy. Cooke was was fined $500,000 (CDN) in that case.

glenn-cookeCooke says it will use $3 million from ACOA’s Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program to expand and create up to six new skilled jobs at the company’s Johnson Lake hatchery.

Just over $2 million from the Atlantic Innovation Fund – which lends money for major research projects –  will go to expansion at the Oak Bay hatchery. The expansion will allow the company to continue to develop its salmon breeding expertise with marine genomics technology.

“As the company has expanded across the region, so has our need to grow this supply,” said CEO Glenn Cooke in the statement. “This [Oak Bay] facility has continued to play a very important part in our operations and our ability to grow healthy seafood in a safe and sustainable manner.”

Blacks Harbour, NB-based Cooke Aquaculture was founded in 1985 with one fish farm in Kelly Cove, NB, and now is vertically integrated from farm to retail, has hatchery or harvesting operations in three continents, and sales offices in four.