Washington Escapes a Sad Case of Deja Vu


Washington fish spill ‘a sad case of déjà vu,’ NL-CAR says

Telegram Staff telegram@thetelegram.com
Published on August 29, 2017

Leo White is shining a light on escapes of farmed fish here in Newfoundland after a recent incident at a Cooke Aquaculture site in Washington.

White, a spokesperson the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition for Aquaculture Reform (NL-CAR), said the escape of 305,000 Atlantic salmon on the west coast is “a sad case of déjà vu.”

“This type of negligence and large escapes have occurred from day one in Newfoundland with severe and irreversible consequences,” he said in a news release.

NL-CAR points to several fish spills, including the loss of tens of thousands of fish from a Cooke Aquaculture plant in hermitage Bay in 2013. Originally estimated at 20,000, the Liberals — in opposition at the time — said closer to 50,000 were lost.

“The Liberal release asked if the government was ‘being responsible stewards of our wild stocks, or have they sold out to the aquaculture industry,’” NL-CAR said.

“Now the Liberals have come full circle embracing a failed open-net pen technology. NL-CAR has several times requested a meeting with the premier and related ministers to no avail.”

NL-CAR says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) estimated in 2013 that the number of escaped salmon, trout and char in Newfoundland was about 750,000. Interbreeding has been confirmed through genetic testing in 17 of 18 rivers on the south coast, and the Atlantic salmon population there is being considered for “threatened” status.

“What has happened in Washington, and what continues to happen here in Newfoundland underscores the need for all new aquaculture proposals to complete a full environmental assessment,” White said.

Recently, the provincial government decided to appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling that a full environmental assessment be done in the case of a proposed aquaculture project in Placentia Bay. NL-CAR sees that project as a huge risk.

“The company, Grieg NL, has plans to place seven million fish in vulnerable net-pens in Placentia Bay. In the winter of 2017 Placentia Bay was full of ice. If the Grieg net pens had been in place there would have been seven million farmed salmon escaped into this sensitive environment,” NL-CAR said.