Cermaq “boarded” twice before harvest

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Activists storm onto Cermaq farm and into salmon pens, but despite the pattern of protest, finfish might not be the source of their ire.

For the second time in a week, activists have jumped into a pen full of swimming salmon and “terrorized” a Cermaq salmon-farm in Burdwood, British Columbia, the company has reported.

Apart from commentary in the Surrey Now-Leader, there was no news coverage of the scenes witnessed this week by Cermaq staff. After the first farm “stunt” on December 1st, the company reported activists had again “boarded” the Burdwood facility yesterday, when they had “illegally launched kayaks and divers into a pen holding harvest-size Atlantic salmon”.

“(The activists) violated multiple workplace safety regulations and procedures, violated our biosecurity protocols which are put in place to protect our fish, and removed several fish, holding them out of the water for a number of minutes,” a Cermaq statement said.

Front line: could the Cermaq attack be about a risk to clams rather than tainted salmon?

Twice in a week
“It is the second time this group of militant activists are claiming that the fish at this farm were somehow contaminated by the spill (in March 2017), and that we are somehow engaging in wrong-doing by harvesting them,” a company communique said.

Cermaq went on to describe the latest “action” as “not peaceful”.

“It put the lives of people and animals in danger,” Cermaq Canada’s managing director, David Kiemele, said, taking an insightful swing at what the Surrey Now-Leader and SalmonBusiness have identified as some well-financed PR campaigns supported by celebrities like Pamela Andersen.

Fish safe
“This inhumane treatment of our animals will no doubt be used by the perpetrators to promote yet more misleading information about salmon farming,” the company said.

Cermaq reassured the public that the fish harvested would be free of contaminants: “The fish at Burdwood have undergone that testing, and before that, they were also tested after the fuel spill in spring.”

In the aftermath the latest surface slick, three types of tests were taken of the farm’s water columns and fish at three separate sites. Cermaq said no contamination or “residue” had been shown, and that fish were safe for immediate harvest.

“Throughout the investigation and clean-up of this unfortunate incident, the company and its staff co-operated fully with the authorities and with nearby communities,” the assured the public, adding that policy vis-à-vis diesel had been reviewed.

Salmon or clam
The protestors, however, might have other motives, as local First Nations chief, Bob Chamberlin — who shared helicopter footage of the spill from his Twitter account — said the irretrievable oil sheen could settle and damage local clam beds.

“The Burdwood area is a very sensitive area, which has the majority of clam beds that our people rely on,” national broadcaster, the CBC, reported him as saying. “Any impact to our traditional food sources is a critical hit to our people.”