Newfoundland restores licences to Mowi Canada East
By Mari-Len De Guzman
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has re-instated 10 aquaculture licences to Northern Harvest Sea Farms (Mowi Canada East) following efforts by the salmon producer to establish better protocols and “regain the public trust.”
The province’s Ministry of Fisheries and Land Resources suspended Mowi’s licences in October of 2019 after it failed to disclose on time all information regarding the fall 2019 salmon mass mortality event for all its 10 farm sites in the Fortune Bay region of Newfoundland.
Minister Byrne reinstated the licences based on findings from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Marine Institute’s Independent Review of the Mass Mortality Event and the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) Post-mortality Event Environmental Monitoring Report, according to a statement from the ministry.
“In the wake of the mass mortality event, MOWI has established numerous protocols and practices to better prevent or mitigate a similar event. Further, through consistent openness and transparency, the company has been proactive in its efforts to regain the public trust that was significantly impaired by the mortality event,” the statement said.
According to the findings by the Marine Institute, the salmon mortality event was caused by unusual natural environmental conditions, including consecutive daily high water temperatures and low oxygen.
MAMKA – a collaboration of Mi’kmaq First Nation communities including Qalipu First Nation and Miawpuek First Nation – noted in its environmental report that the amount of shoreline affected at the time of the incident was small, with no impact found on seabirds.
Mowi welcomed the provincial government’s move to reinstate its licences.
“We are pleased that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador considered all information available and reinstated the licenses. After thorough investigation by credible organizations, it was confirmed that: the salmon mortality event last fall occurred because of extraordinary water temperatures that could not have been predicted; Mowi Canada East took every action possible to address the issue; and no environmental damage or harm to wildlife was observed from the event,” said Jason Card, director of communications at Mowi Canada East, in an email to Aquaculture North America.
Card added his company has made significant investments to enhance the equipment and procedures used in eastern Canada to protect our fish against such temperature extremes in the future.
“We are committed to productive and successful operations in Eastern Canada, and look forward to producing healthy and nutritious seafood using a sustainable approach that creates economic benefits for the communities where we work,” he said.
In the wake of the mass mortality, the provincial government’s aquaculture policies and procedures have been strengthened and now include world-leading policies that compel companies to publicly disclose federally reportable disease and abnormal mortality events, regardless of cause, in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in license suspension or cancellation, the government said.
Before restocking occurs on the 10 affected sites, Mowi Canada East is required to abide by department policies and conditions.