Officials suspected sea lice pesticide abuse use near lobster pens, emails reveal

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Obtained emails from Northern Harvest Sea Farms reveal how New Brunswick environmental officials repeatedly warned the company about the chemical which is fatal to lobsters.

The investigation by CBC news showed tensions during last years sea lice outbreaks in the Bay of Fundy, on the on the east coast of Canada.

The salmon farmers didn’t have a license to use the chemical against a lice outbreak. In May Northern Harvest Sea Farms pleaded guilty to violating the provincial Pesticides Control Act when it went ahead and used a pesticide at the site illegally in 2017. The company was fined $12,000.

The emails – through a right-to-information request – surround attempts by the salmon aquaculture company to apply the sea lice pesticide, Salmosan 50WP, to its cages in Campobello Island’s Head Harbour.

The pesticide is fatal to lobsters and must be located within one kilometre of active holding areas.

“The email exchange calls into question the assertions in court — by both Crown and defence — that the company “self-reported” the incident to the New Brunswick Environment Department,” said journalist, Connell Smith, reporting for the news site.

Connell Smith also put in doubt statements in court that the company applied to the province for pre-approval to put a pesticide in the water at the Head Harbour salmon site.

Dozens of times in the email exchanges with Northern Harvest, New Brunswick officials warned the company of the risks to the lobster fishery. However in 2017, Northern Harvest Sea Farms still planned to use it within salmon sites that were within the danger zone.

Marine Harvest bought Northern Harvest Sea Farms last year.