Salmon died in storm’s aftermath, Cooke Aquaculture says
JOHN McPHEE | Published January 26, 2018
It turns out a winter storm has led to fish deaths at an aquaculture farm near Shelburne after all.
Cooke Aquaculture's Jordan Bay site in early 2018 storm. Photo Kathaleen Milan and Ron Neufeld
Cooke Aquaculture said dead salmon were being removed from the Jordan Bay site on Friday.
“Unfortunately, there have been slightly higher fish mortality due to the harsh recent storms,” the Saint John company said in a statement. “While it is common to experience mortalities a couple of weeks after a storm, the company expects those amounts to reduce rapidly. The mortality is a small percentage of the overall healthy production remaining in the pens.”
Staff have been diving and monitoring the fish since the storm in early January, the statement said.
The company has notified the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture about the fish deaths.
“All livestock farmers encounter and manage mortalities. As per the (company’s) normal and authorized practice, mortalities are removed by trained divers and technicians, brought to shore and disposed of at an approved rendering facility.”
Cooke Aquaculture spokesman Joel Richardson said Friday evening he didn’t know exactly how many fish had died.
“I know it was slightly higher than what they had anticipated due to the severity of the winter storm,” said Richardson, Cooke’s vice-president of public relations, in an interview. “It’s quite common to experience mortality after a severe storm.”
Earlier this month, company officials said they believed no fish had been lost or killed in the storm. Richardson said that appraisal referred to salmon escaping the pens. The fish deaths announced Friday occurred in the weeks after the storm, he said.
“I guess what happens is that sometimes fish can lose scales and things in the storms, and in this case obviously some of them did not survive that storm earlier in the month.”
Richardson couldn’t provide a cost estimate for the fish loss and damage. “We have been and were on site during and following the storm and . . . our staff have been doing remedial work of the repairing of the pens,” he said. “The pen structure and the net structure itself was not compromised in the storm . . . and that has been inspected as well by the province. There were no fish escapes or compromises that way.”
There was damage to nets and stands meant to keep birds away from the fish and they have been replaced, he said.
Inspectors with Nova Scotia Environment who visited the site after the storm found no violations, a spokeswoman told The Chronicle Herald on Jan. 8.