Cyr Couturier, acting director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association.
Gray Aquaculture, which said in June it had fish to operate its plant in Hermitage-Sandyville from late June to the end of September, has suffered another setback in its plans.
The company’s salmon stock had three infectious salmon anemia (ISA) cases in the past year or so, and, as a result, officials had to destroy its 500,000 fish it was planning to process at the Hermitage facility.
According to Clyde Collier, an official with Gray Aqua, the company is starting to rebuild its stock as it now has one million fish placed in a grow-out site in Facheux Bay, west of McCallum.
The latest Gray fish to be infected with ISA were located at a site known as Pass My Can.
Collier said, “This new case is very devastating to us as we have to start the business of building an inventory all over again. We realize that the citizens of Hermitage-Sandyville are disappointed with this news too, but we have to move on from here.”
Collier said that the company might be able to acquire fish for process at Hermitage from other aquaculture companies in the area. However, he stressed that there is no guarantee that this may happen.
He said, “We plan to talk to other companies about this possibility but there is no definite plan in place as of (July 16) for this and we have to stress that this may not happen at all.”
Mayor Doug Rose said that the news is very disappointing in that Gray Aqua originally planned to open the facility in early 2013.
“We are very disappointed with this latest development,” Rose said, “but these things happen in the aquaculture industry. Hopefully Gray Aqua can lease the plant to another company, which would see some work at the facility later this year. However, people should fully realize that this might not happen at all.”
Cyr Couturier is the acting director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA).
Couturier said the fish at Pass My Can were showing signs of disease so officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had the fish tested, and apparently, they have the same strain of ISA as the fish at Goblin Bay had.
The CFIA ordered a depopulation of the fish which is happening right now (July 16), which should be completed in the very near future.
“The biggest concern here for Gray Aqua is that these fish were to be processed this year and now the company, which has to start their stocking process all over again, will not have any market size fish for at least the next 18 months,” Couturier said.
“The bigger companies have fish available in other provinces so the loss of one site in Newfoundland would not be as big an issue. Companies do receive some compensation for those losses but they never receive the full cost of the process.”
Couturier said that it’s imperative that the infected fish be removed as quickly as possible and that all industry stakeholders work together to break the current ISA trend.
Couturier said, “We don’t want to have sick fish, and we will work diligently to find out what is happening so we can avoid this problem in the future.”
ISA has been an issue wherever salmon aquaculture projects have occurred. Over the years it has been an issue in countries like Norway, Scotland and Chile and it has been a problem in other Atlantic Canadian provinces.