Cermaq Canada replies to herring death incident claims

Cermaq Canada image

CERMAQ Canada has replied to official reports that thousands of herring were killed in a mechanical delousing operation in British Columbia last year.

The company said that while incidental catch of wild fish associated with Cermaq salmon farms has typically been very low, it  did report an unfortunate rise in wild Pacific herring in 2022 at its farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“This was identified as an area that required immediate and effective action from our company, led by the oversight and objectives of our Indigenous partners,” Cermaq said.

The Canadian media has carried reports of the incident over the past week with conservation groups sounding alarm bells.

But it appears that herring numbers rose far higher than expected last year.

Cermaq Canada said it has worked collaboratively with the Ahousaht First Nation, through objectives set out in our protocol agreement, to address this incident to great effect. As a result, incidental Pacific herring catch in 2023 has seen a 94.6% reduction over 2022

The company adds: “It has been disappointing to see this incident brought into an unbalanced media spotlight – which omitted the positive results of 2023 – almost two years after it was reported to the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans), which is a requirement under our Conditions of License, as well as immediately reported to the Ahousaht First Nation in whose territory we operate.”

Cermaq Canada said it is committed to area-based management, innovation, and technology adoption across our operations, both as a part of our business model but more importantly, as a part of our protocol agreement with Ahousaht First Nation.

“This agreement includes strict environmental standards and compliance reporting requirements to the leadership and the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS), whose Guardians and biologists have direct oversight of our operations in Clayoquot Sound,” the statement continued.

“This collaborative working relationship, based on strategic objectives, consistent communication, and continual improvement is an example of how the salmon farming industry in BC is already working through transformative innovation in our operations. Innovative technologies and mitigation strategies take time to develop and implement, and even more time to collect data and analyse efficacy.

“This incident serves as a model of how our sector continues to work hard and invest in innovation, technology, and relationships, as we look to grow sustainably into the future.”

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