Global News

Farmed salmon escape leads to call for more public transparency

Andrew Cromwell

Sep 12, 2019
The Atlantic Salmon Federation says it is concerned about a lack of transparency when it comes to companies sharing information about incidents of escape. As it turns out that might be about to change.

Staff at the Federation found that 1,000 farmed salmon escaped from Deer Island facility on Aug. 20, and by Sept. 8 around 53 so called escapees had been recovered.

“It appears that the surge has stopped but whenever we’re getting fish here [Magaguadavic River fishway] it’s a sign that something is going wrong out in the bay,” said Neville Crabbe, executive director of communications at the Atlantic Salmon federation

Cooke Aquaculture, in a statement, said the escape happened during a “routine farming procedure.”

“You have to keep in mind that when these escapes happen only a small percentage ever show up here at the Magaguadavic (River fishway),” Crabbe explained.

The federation said there are concerns ranging from disease and parasites to interbreeding when farmed and wild salmon come together.

Another concern is how the information is being relayed about the farmed salmon breach. The federation said it and other stakeholders are only informed by government if companies give consent, and now the Federation wants better access for the public.

“If the public had the resources and the knowledge that there was a threat out there in the water, they could do things to monitor and remove these fish,” Crabbe said.

The Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association said the ASF is currently among the stakeholders receiving information on things like escapes within 24 hours. There is also a move afoot to expand the transparency following a recent meeting.

“As a result of that we’re actually making one recommendations back,” said Association Executive Director Sue Farqharson. “We’re discussing right now about maybe how we take that communication one step further now…to the public”

But it’s not known exactly how long it will take to enable more public access.

The Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries said in an email statement that the department is well aware of the incident.

“The company reported it to the department as required by regulations. In an effort to promote open communication and transparency, the department undertook steps to inform the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association of the situation.”

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