Aquaculture North America

More fish culling expected at Mowi following DFO rule change

May 18, 2021
By Mari-Len De Guzman

Some three million salmon at Mowi Canada West’s hatcheries may now be destined for slaughter following a “sudden change” in permitting imposed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), according to a statement from Mowi Canada West (MCW).

The forced culling was a result of a recent notice by DFO to double the time to receive a transfer permit from 20 to 40 days.

On the heels of receiving injunctive relief from the Federal Court of Canada, on April 16, 2021, MCW submitted an application for a transfer license (using the 20-day service standard) to move 600,000 juvenile salmon to its Phillips Arm farm in the Discovery Islands, according to the company statement. This would have given the salmon producer adequate time to safely prepare the site and transfer the fish. The move was agreed to by the Kwiakah First Nation in a prior agreement, it said.

However, DFO notified MCW on April 27 that it was doubling the time to approve a transfer permit from 20 to 40 days. Despite an appeal by MCW for a decision by May 4, to meet its operational requirements, DFO has not responded to the request to date, according to MCW.

Mowi requires sufficient notice to safely mobilize employees, contractors and equipment to site. In the normal course, it takes 90 days to rig and prepare a site to receive fish and the cost of both rigging and derigging are significant, between $600,000 and $680,000 per site per process, the company explained.

“While the Minister has stated that her policy only impacts the Discovery Islands, doubling the approval time places MCW at risk of violating our agreement with First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago to have fish removed from our Port Elizabeth farm by the end of June 2021. To date, we have received no response from the Minister,” MCW said.

As a result of this recent development, MCW said it’s been forced to take some actions, including moving around 600,000 fish that are already at its Port Elizabeth Farm to a salmon farm in Broughton, after being granted accommodation by three Broughton First Nations.

“We will continue to try to find a transfer home for the additional est. 600,000 fish already at sea that were destined for farms in the Discovery Islands,” MCW said.

The more than three million salmon in its hatcheries will be culled in the coming weeks, a volume equivalent to 61 million meals lost, MCW said.

“Minister Jordan continues to put us in untenable situations and we don’t understand why.   She has now twice substantively changed the requirements without any input, consultation or discussion with this sector,” said Dr. Diane Morrison, managing director for MCW.


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MCW and other affected companies in British Columbia filed for a judicial review of the decisions made by Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, on Dec. 17, 2020 regarding licenses for salmon farms in the Discovery Islands area. MCW is asking the courts to find the decisions unreasonable and to set them aside.

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