Nova Austral admits mortality misreporting

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After a 14-day investigation, Sernapesca issues fine and three formal complaints to Norwegian-owned salmon farmer.

In a press release on Tuesday evening, Nova Austral embroiled in the “Salmon Leaks” scandal in Chile has admitted that it has identified occasions of misreported mortalities to Sernapesca over the last production cycle.

The salmon farmer had been under the spotlight after an investigative piece by the news site El Mostrador that alleged that Nova Austral’s area managers were given instructions are given to manipulate salmon mortality statistics presented to the auditing authority (SIFA).

On Friday, Chile’s National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca) decided to suspend Nova Austral’s antibiotic-free certification during the course of its investigation

The company is now facing fines up to EUR 190.5 thousand and the suspension of its operations.

On its site, Sernapesca wrote that it will file three complaints against Nova Austral for the delivery of false information as well as for the adulteration of the seabed across sites.

In response, Nova Austral wrote:

“Nova Austral proactively produced the correct information to Sernapesca shortly after identifying the issue. This misreporting did not affect the quality or integrity of the company’s salmon and had no impact on its past financial disclosures. Further, Nova Austral provided evidence to Sernapesca that all mortalities have been disposed of according to environmental regulation. Nova Austral is taking remedial steps to prevent this issue from happening again.”

“Nova Austral is committed to full and complete remediation of any potential issues identified during the pending investigation. One issue that Nova Austral continues to review involves seabed recovery efforts Nova Austral has undertaken and whether those steps might have had any material environmental effects. These recovery efforts did not impact the quality of Nova Austral fish or Nova Austral’s quality commitments to its customers,” it added.

Nova Austral said that is currently in productive and ongoing contact with the regulators based on complete collaboration and cooperation by the company. Furthermore, it is in the process of implementing remedial measures and will finish an internal investigation in the coming days.

The salmon farmer is chaired by Norwegian Yngve Myhre, a former Nofima board member (last chaired in 2017) who is also on the board of Andromeda and Benchmark Holdings.