Mowi’s Northern Harvest says it that has completed its mass mortality clean up

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Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association Mark Lane says lessons will be learnt from 2.6 million fish die-off.

On Monday Northern Harvest posted on Facebook that it had finished removing 5,000 tonnes of dead salmon.

“As of Friday, October 25, all salmon mortalities have been removed from all affected sites. Northern Harvest is committed to being as thorough and comprehensive in its response effort as possible, and we continue to keep our staff focused on any remaining site clean up activity”.

SalmonBusiness asked Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association Mark Lane what he thought of the situation.

Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association Mark Lane. PHOTO: LinkedIn

Unfortunate
“MOWIs Mass mortality clean up is near completed. Public has been reassured. Politicians and go government are still supportive. We need to learn from this unfortunate series of events and move on,” he wrote in a text message.

What is the biggest lesson here, moving forward?

“Better communication with the general public. Although immediate stakeholders and regulators were regularly informed on items of interest; the masses were not as in tune with current developments. Although we are a highly transparent food production industry, perhaps the most publicly reported, we can always do better. With respect to MOWI mass mortality due to extended warm water temperatures, I think we could have done a better job of communicating and explaining that is is an unavoidable environmental issue, really no different than the damage that a recent hurricane caused to shellfish sector in other jurisdictions around the same time.

“We are farmers of the sea. Not unlike other farmers of wheat, cattle, poultry etc we are sometimes at the mercy of Mother Nature and environmental conditions beyond our control. Like other farmers, we learn to improvise, adapt and overcome to prevail in the end and avoid similar situations in the future”.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada
SalmonBusiness contacted Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the federal lead for safeguarding Canada’s waters fisheries, oceans and freshwater resources, who are investigating the incident.

A spokesperson emailed SalmonBusiness with the following statement:

“In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial government is the lead regulator of aquaculture. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) holds responsibilities under the Aquaculture Activity Regulations (AAR), which are the regulations under the federal Fisheries Act that enable specific aquaculture activities to take place. The AAR clarify conditions under which aquaculture operators may install, operate, maintain or remove an aquaculture facility, or undertake measures to treat their fish for disease and parasites, as well as deposit organic matter.

“DFO officials have been monitoring this event since becoming aware of it. Staff have been on-site conducting at sea and shoreline patrols and engaging in air surveillance of the area to monitor the dispersal of the organic material. Observations from our most recent surveillance confirm that much of the material previously seen on beaches and in coves has dispersed. There will be ongoing monitoring of the ocean bottom to determine if there is organic material present and the length of time it takes for the material to disperse.

“We are working with the company, the Province, and the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) on the development and implementation of a monitoring plan which will include underwater video of the ocean bottom and the extent of any deposited material. The monitoring plan will also include recording and identifying any marine species in the area. We have requested that the company provide us with regular detailed reports, from the monitoring activities, regarding potential environmental impacts. The company has engaged the MAMKA to complete the monitoring work.

This incident is under review by our department and we continue to monitor and assess the incident with regard to matters within our jurisdiction, including potential environmental impacts to fish and fish habitat”.

All of the affected Northern Harvest Seafarms’ licences are still suspended.