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Minister says Former Administration Chose Not to Disclose Serious Incidents at Fish Farms

Oct 31, 2019
Gerry Byrne blames the previous government for a policy of non-disclosure. Atlantic Salmon Federation/Bill Bryden
Provincial Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne is pointing the finger at the previous administration for a lack of disclosure about serious events involving fish farms.

Byrne says proactive disclosure is his objective and in a letter to the province’s Privacy Commissioner, cited the recent event at a local chicken farm in which thousands of broilers died due to a malfunction in the farm’s ventilation system.

Byrne calls that “proactive disclosure” one of the first in which the province proactively disclosed such an event in over 40 years.

He says the previous government decided “never to disclose” but he says that’s not good enough.

According to a document provided to VOCM News, six disease events and one superchill event at salmon aquaculture sites in this province between 2012 and 2014 were not publicly disclosed.

The total number of fish affected by these incidents reached well over 4.2-million.

He says there were some concerns about commercial liability, should government disclose the information. That is why, he says, he put the responsibility on companies to provide disclosure.

Byrne says if you want to farm fish but not disclose, then “don’t farm fish.”

Byrne Doubtful Charges Will Follow Mass Die-Off

Some doubt is being cast on whether charges will be laid under federal law in connection with the massive salmon die-off off the province’s south coast—and it’s coming from the province’s fisheries minister.

He says the federal government is responsible for enforcing regulations and laying charges under the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Bird Act and the Canada Shipping Act.

He says it’s the federal government’s responsibility to have investigators on-site as soon as the incident was reported.

He says the federal government knew about the incident on September 4 when the province notified them and perhaps knew before that—but they failed to act.

Byrne suggests if there weren’t investigators on site, then charges may not be possible. He says there must be a “robust chain of evidence” to result in charges.

https://vocm.com/2019/10/31/byrne-disclosure/

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