New Zealand King Salmon’s CEO Grant Rosewarne has warned that climate change is happening “faster than many people think”, calling industries like fish farming the “canaries in the coalmine.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Rosewarne stated that “there should be alarm bells.” “When I joined this company, I never heard of the term ‘marine heatwave’. Recently, there’s been three of them,” he added.
Warming temperatures have hit New Zealand King Salmon particularly hard, with the company reporting a mass mortality event of up to 42 percent in warm water ares where fish weren’t towed to cooler zones.
“We thought that climate change is a really slow effect, detected over decades — and possibly we’ve got, two decades before we’re even impacted. Well, within one decade we were impacted,” Rosewarne said.
According to New Zealand outlet RNZ, the situation resulted in the company making 160 trips to Blenheim landfill, dumping 1,269 tonnes of dead fish and waste, with 632 tonnes of fish wasted dumped in February alone.
“We see [temperatures] elevated by a full degree. I know that doesn’t sound much to people, but a full degree is huge for our species. If you get to 18 degrees for two weeks, then you have a mass mortality event on your hands,” Rosewarne explained.
85 percent of chinook salmon, known as king salmon, comes from New Zealand, with New Zealand King Salmon being the world’s largest producer of the highly-valued breed.
New Zealand King Salmon has had a turbulent year on the stock market. The company has been plagued with issues, reporting an increased mortality cost of NZD $20.8 million (€12.7 million) in the fiscal year ending on 31 January 2022, adding to a fully year loss of NZD $73 million (€44.5 million).
The company has the unfortunate moniker of being the worst performer on the New Zealand stock exchange, having seen its stock price drop by over 70 percent to a mere NZD $0.20 (€0.12) over the past 12 months.