Sue Scott of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) continues to spread incorrect information about escapes from Newfoundland and Labrador salmon farms. Her assertions cannot go unchallenged.
We stand by our numbers. In his May 26 commentary, ASF President Bill Taylor wrote that there have been 750,000 reported escapes in Newfoundland in the past decade.
This is simply not true. In fact, there have been escapes of 21,600 salmon, 88,878 trout and 69,827 char in the past 10 years. These numbers have been audited by both the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Newfoundland and Labrador salmon farmers do not want to lose a single fish. Their fish are their livelihood.
Our farmers abide by a code of containment that was implemented in 1999 and has strict guidelines regarding topics such as net strengths and recapture methodologies that has been recognized internationally by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO).
Escapes of farmed salmon were 21,600 since 1999, which is dramatically lower than escape numbers from decades before which speaks to ongoing improvements in our industry and our continuing proactive efforts to improve our methods.
In fact, over the last ten years escapes represent less than one per cent of the total number of salmon in the water at any one time. Fish farmers do not want to lose their salmon any more than cattle farmers want to lose their cows. It’s what they sell.
Both the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans oversee our code of containment.
All escape reports are audited by these departments through inventory reconciliations, and the information is shared through an annual compliance report that is provided during an annual meeting of the Aquaculture Liaison Committee (latest meeting held in February 2014) with representatives from municipalities, First Nations, FFAW and the Salmonid Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, of which the Atlantic Salmon Federation is a member.
Perhaps Scott shouldn’t be so quick to toss out allegations about a lack of government transparency and the need for Access to Information requests to get data that is already publicly available and — unlike her numbers — factually correct.