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Mowi CEO apologies for mass salmon death

Atlantic salmon on a fish farm in B.C.
In a letter, MOWI CEO announced six commitments his company will make to prevent a salmon die-off from happening again. -File photo

Mowi CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog issued a written apology to Premier Dwight Ball and Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne following the death of 2.6 million farmed salmon at Northern Harvest Seafarm’s operations on the south coast of the province.

“I want to begin right away by acknowledging a mistake that our company made while responding to a significant, unexpected, and unfortunate climate event this summer that took half our fish in Newfoundland and Labrador,” wrote Aarskog.

“In not providing mortality information properly after the mass mortality was first reported in September, we did not live up to both your, and our own expectations. For this, I personally and sincerely apologize as CEO on behalf of Mowi ASA.”

Byrne distributed the letter following a technical briefing about enhanced regulations for the aquaculture industry.

In the letter, Aarskog announced six commitments his company will make to prevent a similar salmon die-off from happening again.

“1. Data logging and submission of environmental parameters including: oxygen, temperature, and salinity with real time capability added as it becomes available.

2. All current and new sites are to be fitted with nets that haven a total minimum depth of 25 metres. This is to ensure all our salmon have access to optimal water temperatures.

3. All sites are to be equipped with aeration systems to protect against temperature and oxygen issues.

4. An enhanced mass mortality response plan, developed in conjunction with federal and provincial regulators, including more rapid removal ability, and access to greater boat capacity.

5. Enhanced training for our personnel so that they can be better prepared for future emergency events. The lessons learned from this event will provide guidance for an improved and more responsive contingency plan for any future emergency event, including mass mortality.

6. Mowi will also work with the federal government to secure timeless access to boats that are able to assist with emergencies in the future. As part of this experience, we learned there are delated created by regulatory process that can prevent large scale well boats from entering Canadian waters on short notice, and we now have an opportunity to adapt to this reality and prepare for the future.”

Mowi purchased its south coast operations in July 2018. The purchase was “as-is,” meaning it was essentially a turnkey operation for Mowi to take over. The letter notes that the nets in the area at the time of the incident were 15 metres deep.

New provincial regulations require nets to be minimum 20 meters deep to allow fish to move to warmer or cooler temperatures to help them survive temperature changes.

“We want to continue to make positive contributions and investments that benefit the industry in this province, provide employment, and contribute to a more robust future for rural families and communities,” reads the letter.

“It is my hope as CEO of the largest salmon producing company in the world, that you will accept my apology on behalf of Mowi.”

david.maher@thetelegram.com

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