Sea lions ate most of escaped salmon, say Mowi

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“Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators”.

On Sunday 22nd, divers at Mowi Canada West’s Robertson Island farm pen confirmed that around 21,000 fish were inside the pen near Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada, when a fire broke out sometime overnight between Thursday and Friday beforehand.

Screenshot: CBC/Tavish Campbell

The exact number of fish is still unknown, though now Mowi has confirmed that most of the fish were 21,000 were released. Furthermore, while this is not confirmed, Mowi will be investigating to see if the incident was caused by an electrical fire.

Downplaying the ecological consequences, Mowi Canada West told CoastAlaska that it had observed a large number of sea lions feeding on Atlantics.

“Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators,” the company said in a statement. “That said, we take our responsibility to prevent any impacts seriously, and will take every reasonable action to do so.”

The incident comes at a heightened time for salmon farmers who face the prospect of a gradual phase-out in Pacific Canada. 17 sites in farm-free migration corridor could be gone by 2023. As well as Justin Trudeau’s move to closed containment.

Criticising the escape on CBC, anti-salmon farming advocates Watershed Watch Society said that escaped farmed fish may have ecological impacts on struggling wild stocks.

But fish health manager and veterinarian Dr Hugh Mitchell has been battling it out on Twitter: “A monetary loss for Mowi but NOT an enviro. concern. In WA, the fear-mongers falsely spun these non-invasive fish to be a hazard with no evidence & considerable information they aren’t. Baseless bans, fines, & lawsuits. Sad times”, he wrote.