Grieg Seafood Newfoundland postpones first transfer of fish to sea to spring 2022

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The decision is taken based on a precautionary approach and to reduce risk, as the company will develop salmon farming operations in Placentia Bay gradually and responsibly.

During a routine sampling of the fish scheduled to transfer to sea from the Marystown facility this summer, one fish provided a suspect detection of ISA. Over the last weeks, 295 additional samples have been collected and analyzed by Provincial Veterinary Authorities. All samples have provided negative results and no ISA was detected, according to a press release from the company.

While it would be possible to transfer the fish to sea under restrictions, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland has decided to apply the precautionary approach and not transfer fish to sea. Placentia Bay is a promising area for salmon farming with no known history of ISA. Grieg Seafood Newfoundland will not risk introducing the virus into the environment. The company has stated all along that the farming region will be developed gradually and responsibly, to optimize biological conditions and to ensure sustainable operations.

As a result, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland regrets to say that almost one million fish that was scheduled for sea transfer this summer, unfortunately will be culled. All of these fish are in the same RAS system as the one fish with the detection, and the company would not have been able to maintain its fish health and welfare standard in sea should the virus exist in this fish group.

A thorough review is initiated to find out why an ISA detection occurred, and measures will subsequently be put in place to avoid similar occurrences in the future.

The financial impact of the postponement is minor, as the first group of fish had few individuals compared to regular operations. Generating knowledge about farming salmon in the new fresh-water facility and the Placentia Bay area is a key priority before scaling up. Improvements for the fresh-water
phase are identified after the first group and implemented for the next generation.

During the spring and summer of 2022, around three million fish are planned to be transferred to sea, in accordance with the original schedule. These eggs and fish are currently growing well in a separate building in the Marystown facility. The fish will be harvested in 2023 and 2024.

Grieg Seafood Newfoundland’s 2025 harvesting target of 15,000 tonnes remains unchanged.

Commenting on the decision, Knut Skeidsvoll, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, said:

“We have said from the beginning that we will develop our farming operations in Placentia Bay gradually, responsibly and sustainably. As such, we believe it is right to apply the precautionary approach in this situation and postpone the transfer to sea to the spring of 2022. Even though none of
the additional 295 samples detected any virus, we do not want to risk introducing ISA into the environment and possibly farm fish in the sea without optimal conditions for fish health and welfare. Our plans and vision beyond this first group of fish have not changed, and we are using the experience gained to improve for the next generation. We are confident that we will be able to build a strong farming region in Newfoundland during the next years, and create jobs and value for the local communities here. I want to thank the Provincial Government and Veterinary Authorities for their continued cooperation.”