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A single case of Infectious Salmon Anemia detected in a tankful of salmon parr has convinced Grieg Seafood Newfoundland to postpone its first transfer of fish from hatchery to sea until 2022.
The company said in a news release Aug. 3 that even though it would be possible to transfer the fish to sea, with some restrictions, they have decided to take the precautionary approach to reduce risk.
“As a result, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland regrets to say that almost one million fish that were scheduled for sea transfer this summer … will be culled,” the company said.
Knut Skeidsvoll, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, said the decisionfollows the company’s commitment to develop the operation in Placentia Bay “gradually and responsibly.”
“Even though none of the additional 295 samples detected any virus, we do not want to risk introducing ISA into the environment and possibly farm fish in the sea without optimal conditions for fish health and welfare,” he said.
During the spring and summer of 2022, the company plans to transfer around three million fish to its marine sites.
These eggs and fish are currently growing well in a separate building in the Marystown facility said Power and the fish will be harvested in 2023 and 2024.
The company said its goal to harvest 15,000 tonnes annually from Placentia Bay marine sites by 2025 is unchanged.
The one million salmon parr will be disposed of in accordance with provincial environment regulations, in a process supervised by provincial officials Power added.
What that means for local employees is unclear, Power said.
“We’re doing to do our darndest to find solutions for anyone who would be impacted by this.”
The company employs 94 people in Marystown, with 25 of them working at the recently-constructed marine sites.
With a plan to have three million salmon ready for transfer to sea sites next year, Power added, the company “has no plans to lay off any employees right now.”
The company still believes in the potential for salmon farming in Placentia Bay, he said.
“While this is disappointing, it is a bump in the road in the big picture.”
As for the cause of the ISA, Power said the company is working with the province in the investigation and they hope to have an update in the coming weeks.