Grieg Seafood is being forced to cull around a million salmon and postpone its first transfer for almost a year after discovering a single case of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) at its farms in Newfoundland.
The company said the decision is being taken as a precautionary measure in a bid to reduce risk. It intends to develop salmon farming operations in Placentia Bay “gradually and responsibly”.
The discovery of suspected ISA in just one fish followed a routine sampling that was due to be launched from its Marystown facility earlier this summer. A further 295 samples were collected and analysed by the Newfoundland veterinary authorities and all gave negative results. No ISA was found.
The Grieg statement continued: “While it would be possible to transfer the fish to sea under restrictions, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland has decided to apply the precautionary approach and not transfer fish to sea.
“Placentia Bay is a promising area for salmon farming with no known history of ISA. Grieg Seafood Newfoundland will not risk introducing the virus into the environment. The company has stated all along that the farming region will be developed gradually and responsibly, to optimize biological conditions and to ensure sustainable operations.”
“As a result, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland regrets to say that almost one million fish that was scheduled for sea transfer this summer, unfortunately will be culled.
“All of these fish are in the same RAS [recirculating aquaculture system] as the one fish with the detection, and the company would not have been able to maintain its fish health and welfare standard in sea should the virus exist in this fish group.”
The company said it now plans to carry out a thorough review to find out why ISA was detected and would also take measures to avoid similar incidents in the future.
A thorough review is initiated to find out why an ISA detection occurred, and measures will subsequently be put in place to avoid similar occurrences in the future.
Knut Skeidsvoll, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland, said: “We have said from the beginning that we will develop our farming operations in Placentia Bay gradually, responsibly and sustainably. As such, we believe it is right to apply the precautionary approach in this situation and postpone the transfer to sea to the spring of 2022.
“Even though none of the additional 295 samples detected any virus, we do not want to risk introducing ISA into the environment and possibly farm fish in the sea without optimal conditions for fish health and welfare.
He added: “Our plans and vision beyond this first group of fish have not changed, and we are using the experience gained to improve for the next generation. We are confident that we will be able to build a strong farming region in Newfoundland during the next years, and create jobs and value for the local communities here.”