Company followed strict rulesafter salmon escape

Clayton Hunt
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Cold Ocean Salmon gets special licence to fish in Hermitage Bay to recover lost stock

The executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) says Cold Ocean Salmon followed the strict guidelines of a mandatory code of containment after a recent loss of about 20,000 salmon at its Hermitage Bay facility.

One of the escaped salmon was found dead on the beach in Sandyville. — TC Media photo

The federal and provincial fisheries departments regulate the law, which came into effect in 1999.

“In the case of this recent escape, the code was followed to address the situation promptly,” the NAIA’s Cyr Couturier said.

Suspected losses were reported within minutes of the breach of containment.

“In keeping with the requirements of the code, the affected company has provided relevant authorities with a detailed report on how the suspected breach occurred which was caused by extraordinary ocean and climatic conditions.

“The company also reported the actions employees took to lessen the number of escapees.

“Officials with Cold Ocean Salmon are working with DFO (Department of

Fisheries and Oceans) on a plan to recapture any fish that may have survived the incident.”

Couturier said NAIA does not foresee any effect on wild stocks of fish because the Hermitage Bay area is not home to any active salmon rivers. The nearest river is more than 40 km away.

According to the association, the escaped fish were healthy and ready for market so they pose no health risk and will likely be consumed by natural predators.

Geoff Perry is the director of aquaculture management with DFO in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He said officials with Cold Ocean Salmon reported the incident immediately Sept. 26, when fish escaped from one of three cages at Green Point in Hermitage Bay.

Apparently, there were about 30,000 fish in the cage at the time and the company said it was possible approximately 20,000 escaped into the wild.

“As the company expressed an interest in recapturing the fish for processing at Harbour Breton, we have issued them an experimental licence that authorizes them to fish for Atlantic salmon in Hermitage Bay,” Perry said.

“We have drawn a line from just south of Hermitage over to Long Island where the company can use herring gear for the next two weeks to possibly recapture some of the escapees.”

Perry said that DFO officials will monitor the experimental fishery very closely. If it proves to be unsuccessful, other measures will be taken to recapture the fish. That may include recreational fishing.

“This is the first time that DFO has given an experimental licence to a company to recapture fish so close to a cage site,” he said. “This is important as it serves to reduce the potential of any interaction between wild and farmed fish.”

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Hermitage Bay, Hermitage Bay.Apparently, Green Point Atlantic Long Island

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  • paul
    October 10, 2013 - 07:03

    if they were not before, then its time now for the salmon farming industry to be prepared for and expect 'extraordinary ocean and climate conditions'...that is the new normal and must be anticipated.