Mowi now believes the number of fish lost in a mass mortality event at one of its sites in eastern Canada is at least 212,100 – more than double initial estimates.
The losses are being blamed on low dissolved oxygen levels at Mowi’s farm at the Gorge, on the south coast of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture posted an update yesterday with the new estimate, which accounts for around 24% of fish on the site. The department said the incident was “site-specific” and stressed that no abnormal mortalities had been identified at any other sites.
The department said: “Under oversight of the department, the company is taking all responsible steps to address the incident. Mitigation measures include deeper nets and aeration equipment at the site. Department staff have been conducting sampling and observing seining activities, with the full cooperation of the company.”
The statement added that Mowi had been fully transparent and co-operative with the department throughout the process.
Harvesting of the remaining fish at the site began at the start of this week.
Low dissolved oxygen levels are widely seen as related to ocean warming and climate change, presenting a problem for salmon farmers in all regions.
Meanwhile Bernadette Jordan, Fisheries Minister in Canada’s federal government, lost her seat to a Conservative opponent in the snap general election that took place on Monday. Jordan had spearheaded a controversial policy of removing all net-pen farming from the Discovery Islands region on Canada’s west coast.
The Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government appears to have won enough votes, however, to stay in power with the help of smaller parties, so it is not clear whether the farmers have any chance of reversing the Discovery Islands decision.