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Something rotten in NL open net-pen salmon growing


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and something is rotten in Newfoundland’s salmon aquaculture industry and it’s not just the 92,000 rotting salmon that Marine Harvest reported. Marcellus was referring to the entire Danish state and we are referring to the entire salmon aquaculture industry in NL including government that continues to prop up a failing industry, does not properly regulate it and myopically sees it as the way forward.

Leo White, spokesperson for The Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition for Aquaculture Reform (NL-CAR) suspects that Mowi’s Marine Harvest (MH) is not being transparent about this mass mortality event coming as it did at the same time as hurricane Larry brought higher than normal waves and storm surge.

White says “There is no mention of Larry at all. No mention of stressed salmon or sick salmon. No mention of sea lice. Sea temperatures in the area were about normal for the time of year. It’s all familiar and it’s all horrible. Like late summer 2019.”

MH reported publicly September 11 that over 90,000 salmon had died, more than 10% of the 900,000 Atlantic salmon being raised at the Gorge site. It would be interesting to know just how the number of dead salmon was determined and also interesting that the number is 10% of the total stocked, just above the threshold for mandatory reporting. These salmon are approximately 3 kilograms and would have been harvested this fall. We are reassured that the remaining 810, 000 salmon will be harvested.

MH’s statement says that the suspect cause of the mortalities is a precipitous drop in dissolved oxygen. This sounds like they were caught unaware that salmon packed tightly into a fixed net pen need a dependable supply of oxygen.

This was supposed to be the lesson learned from the Mowi mass mortality event of late summer 2019 when over 4 million salmon died from lack of dissolved oxygen. MH’s statement says that it has invested in deep netting and aeration equipment but obviously, if over 90,000 salmon suffocated, it was not enough.

White says “this is the fifth mass mortality since 2013 and NL has become internationally known for its mass mortalities in salmon aquaculture. In 2019 some 56 % of the entire industry stock perished and in 2020 it was 46%. This sorry fact alone is testament to fundamental problems that plague the industry and have not been resolved. Further there is no chance of them being resolved as long as the industry and government are in denial. It will be interesting to hear what becomes of the dead salmon and whether any fines or sanctions will be levied.”

For further information
contact NL-CAR spokesperson:
Leo White 709 753 4034 or 709 727 8419