Aquaculture North America

Mowi issues public apology to Canadian province

November 8, 2019
By Mari-Len De Guzman

The top executive at Mowi has issued a public apology to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada following a spate of fish deaths at the company’s salmon farm in the Fortune Bay are.

“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 Mowi ASA,” wrote Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO of Mowi ASA, in his letter addressed to Premier Dwight Ball and Minister of Fisheries Gerry Byrne.

Aarskog added his company has already takes steps to improve its processes to ensure the timely reporting of mortalities in the future. The Norwegian company’s Canadian subsidiary, Mowi Canada, suffered a massive setback this summer after nearly three million of its salmon perished from an “unfortunate climate event.”

In his letter, Aarskog outlined several prevention measures the company is implementing to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. These measures include:

  1. Data logging and submission of environmental parameters including: oxygen, temperature, and salinity; with real time capability added as it becomes available.
  1. All current and new sites are to be fitted with nets that have a total minimum depth of 25 meters. This is to ensure all our salmon have access to optimal water temperatures.
  1. All sites are to be equipped with aeration systems to protect against temperature and oxygen issues.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. Mowi will also work with the Federal Government to secure timely access to boats (well boats, seiners, etc.) that are able to assist with emergencies in the future. As part of this experience we learned there are delays 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’s chief executive also said the water temperature extremes that caused the mass mortality was something his company has never anticipated. “Temperature data that we received while we were contemplating the purchase of Northern Harvest Sea Farms did not indicate that such events were possible,” he said.

Following the release of the public apology, Mowi announced Aarskog is stepping down from his post. It is unclear whether his departure is connected to the incident in Newfoundland, as the reason for his departure was not disclosed in the press statement issued by the company.

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