Cold winter killing salmon at fish farms

Josh
Josh Pennell
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Cold enough to kill a fish might just become a newly coined phrase after an abnormally frigid winter that has taken its toll on the farmed salmon of the province’s aquaculture industry.

The bitter and prolonged cold of this winter has had a deadly effect on salmon in acquaculture facilities in the province. — TC Media file photo

The numbers aren’t in yet and the hope is that the losses won’t be drastic, but a percentage of farmed salmon fell victim to winter mortality.

“This is an exceptional year,” says Miranda Pryor, executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA). “The environmental conditions and the water temperatures are the coldest we’ve seen in well over 10 years.”

The fish die in what’s called a super chill event. If the fish hit a critical temperature, they can’t survive, Pryor says. It’s a rare event that hasn’t happened here in quite some time.

Rare, but not abnormal, Pryor says. The reason it isn’t known how many fish have been lost due to the super chill is that aquaculturists are still getting out to their fish cages and cleaning them up after the long winter. Normally they get out there every week, Pryor says, but when the water temperature is as cold as it was during this winter, they have to leave the fish alone. The salmon stay at a depth that has a preferred temperature.

“If we disturb them, then they would tend to swim into areas of the cage which may be colder.”

That can lead to massive mortality. So the fish farmers haven’t been out to their cages in months in some instances and are just now getting a handle on what they’ve lost.

Dead fish from the  aquaculture industry had been going to a local compost company. That company is being restructured and so that’s no longer an option. Other times — the least preferred option, Pryor says — the dead salmon are sent to the landfill.

The winter mortalities being collected now are sent to the Barry Group facility in Burgeo to be rendered into a fish meal product.

Pryor says they’re hoping to get the final numbers on this winter’s farmed salmon mortality in a few weeks.

 

 

Organizations: Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, Barry Group

Geographic location: Burgeo

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • paul
    June 05, 2014 - 07:31

    its not only me who says that salmon farming is not the environmental nightmare opponents pretend it is... http://www.seafoodsource.com/en/news/aquaculture/25232-noaa-coastal-aquaculture-environmentally-safe

  • paul
    June 05, 2014 - 07:14

    DH, just what impact does angling for wild salmon have on wild stocks? do we have a really good handle on just how many salmon are taken each year, by licence holders? above and beyond what licence allows? by poachers? by commercial fishery (St. Pierre) and poachers on coast....and environmental factors...I have no problem with working with the industry to make sure things are done right to reduce /eliminate risks but the nightmare that some people present and claim to be the norm for sea cage salmon farming is just not real. don't believe everything you hear, actually, one should challenge everything you hear including things that seem to agree with your own sentiments...

  • South Coast Fool
    May 29, 2014 - 18:12

    Paul you have no idea what you are talking about. You should speak to Cyr Courturier at MUN and in fact you talk like him sometimes. It is quite obvious that you have not eaten the lobsters on the coast this year. If they are not contaminated why is one of the owners of the aquaculture company buying them all up and is taking them out of circulation. This company is on a mission to try to hide this and it is getting backing from the NAIA and the Union locally as they are trying not to let the government know that the lobster fishers have a case. With regards to getting compensated for the morts you are wrong. Even though some fish die, when the ISA hit the cages, the compensation goes in for the number of fish that was put in the cage, not what is left in the cage. Even the scientist from MUN will defend what you say in an almost exact fashion without the science to justify the finding MUN is getting out of this. There is nothing wrong with the CFIA getting more testing on the fish caught near the cages for the safety of the people who consume what comes out of the ocean. But know heaven forbid or should I make reference to the bible as you are a scientist yourself so I should say"What if" it came back positive with chemicals? Well then you and a few others will have to eat crow. We all catch cod here on the coast in season, so who is feeding the codfish the feed their bellies are full of? Not me and I don't think they go to a restaurant. What is your problem with the companies admitting that the wild stock are eating this feed at all times and some of the feed has chemicals in it? The people here on the south coast deserve more respect than they are given by people with the industry after all we are now the biggest investors caught up in this mess.

  • paul
    May 28, 2014 - 11:39

    this link goes to an interesting article by a journalist in BC, exploring some of the junk science that supports many of the myths out there used to attack salmon farming, it also explores who pays for this junk science...its the Alaskan wild salmon processors, a foreign lobby, that pays millions to canadian 'environmentalists' to prepare and publish reports solely intended to make farmed salmon look bad and scare people away from it...to benefit US wild salmon sales...read it and think about it when you blindly repeat the bunk they produce, as if it were gospel truth! http://fairquestions.typepad.com/rethink_campaigns/did-david-suzuki-prevaricate-about-pcbs-in-farmed-salmon.html

  • Paul
    May 27, 2014 - 15:41

    by all means let us hold industry and government accountable, but there are many myths out there about salmon farming that just do not stand up in reality. 1. the growers are not compensated from tax $$ for mortality losses on their farms...these morts killed by cold water are losses they will have to absorb, unless they happen to have stock insurance...the only public money that goes to them for mortalities is when CFIA 'orders' them to destroy stocks in which highly infectious diseases are detected, like ISA recently. The money serves as incentive to reduce the blow to the farmer, and to ensure they follow through, to 'get the diseased fish out of the bays' and 'make sure they don't go to the human food chain'...I would have thought these were good things. 2. Land based salmon farming is , at this time, not commercially viable even though there are a number of 'projects' exploring growing salmon to market...and many such projects that went under along the way. the technology is there and has been used for a long time for high value species and life stages, such as salmon smolt and broodstock. There have been some recent land based projects that have brought salmon to the market place but ,since they are raised in fresh water they taste different, some call it buttery, some call it muddy, and they are more expensive to buy, and they are not even marketed as salmon but something else...tell me how many people, who actually do buy farmed salmon , will actually pay more for something that tastes different and isn't even called salmon...would you buy your chicken like that? The other thing abour land based that must be kept in the forefront of any honest discussion is that if , IF, the salmon industry comes out of our bays and into tanks on land, it will not be in Newfoundland...the only reason its here now is because they need our coastal waters for high quality marine sites...they can build tanks much closer to the markets rather than truck them from NL...there is no reason to grow them out in Tanks in NL...too expensive to ship to market...so, all the jobs in salmon farming in NL will be gone...if you don't care about that, fine, but let us be honest about this fact when people call for going to land based, they are also calling for the loss of hundreds of jobs in rural NL.

    • DH
      May 29, 2014 - 11:17

      So lets not worry about the effect it has on wild salmon. Jobs are jobs, wild salmon are to be protected. I do not care about the few measly jobs that will go with the halting of water based pens. I care about the wild Atlantic salmon. So should you.

    • paul
      June 02, 2014 - 11:54

      DH...I am concerned about wild salmon but I have yet see anything about how salmon farming is done in Canada, that really concerns me more than the misinformation used to attack salmon farming.

  • paul
    May 27, 2014 - 06:53

    Josh Pennel or other editor, if this story is closed for comment please say so. I've tried to post rebuttals 3 times yesterday that have not shown up....my posts are reasoned and factual responses to the myth based bunk people attack salmon farming with, and my comments are worth posting in name of balancing the 'discussion'...responding to ignorant hysteria with reason. please post my comments or let me know why you do not, and stop pretending to be a journalist. thanks Paul James

  • South Coast Fool
    May 26, 2014 - 22:51

    Does Miranda Prior take us all for fools? We live and work this crap every day and we all know that if the dead fish are not taken out of the cages they rot and spread disease to the other living fish. The remaining living fish eat the rotting fish. Then we overload the living fish with pesticides to try to keep them from dying. Then all the dead fish coat the bottom of the cages and the fish dropping from the live fish pile up on the dead fish and then the remaining live fish eat the droppings from themselves. Miranda Prior is just a damage control person and will say anything to ensure the industry looks good. The lobsters on the south coast this year in the areas where the cages are located taste like blubber and people are getting fed up with it. One day Amanda Prior will be held accountable for her careless and irresponsible statements. This will happen when something seriously gets poisoned by this feedlot garbage and then the government will have to close all of the wild fisheries to ensure the mess is cleaned up. The aquaculture industry will wipe out the wild stocks and if not entirely will do enough damage to put every fisher out of business in the Coast of Bays. The lobster fishers on the south coast does not realize right now how close they are to having their fishery shut down as the lobsters does have the toxins in them that is fed to the salmon. Prior is a disgrace to her own industry by getting on with this foolishness about cold water kill.

    • Paul
      May 27, 2014 - 15:53

      I'll call your little rant a pile of baloney. Cold water kills are real, if you knew anything about salmon farming in NL you would realise that and the fact that you have to stay away from the cages or attract the fish into the cold surface waters, killing more... so, starting from there, you continue to spread myths...there is no evidence that lobster or people are harmed by sea lice treatment (your ref to pesticides) and I have never heard of lobster tasting like blubber...do you realise what wild lobster eat? they scavenge the sea floor and eat alot of dead things...ever see what they eat in a harbour? around a wharf? ever taste that when eating a lobster? and there is no credible evidence that wild salmon stocks are harmed by salmon farms...why is it that salmon stocks are down all over, including places with , and without salmon farms? and , why has the Conne River seen increases recently? why was the commercial salmon fishery shut down in NL, before salmon farming took hold? and you need to decide if you are angry at Miranda, or Amanda...you can not even get that straight, why should we expect you to get facts straight?

    • DH
      May 31, 2014 - 13:05

      Paul here you go again missing the big picture. I am sure your list of facts are somewhat correct. However, the fact is that the wild Atlantic salmon need to be protected. Water based pens and the few jobs it creates (I am assuming you are one of those) does not help with the conservation and replenishment of our salmon stocks. I see the big picture, so should you.

  • paul
    May 26, 2014 - 16:01

    by all means let us hold industry and government accountable, but there are many myths out there about salmon farming that just do not stand up in reality. 1. the growers are not compensated from tax $$ for mortality losses on their farms...these morts killed by cold water are losses they will have to absorb, unless they happen to have stock insurance...the only public money that goes to them for mortalities is when CFIA 'orders' them to destroy stocks in which highly infectious diseases are detected, like ISA recently. The money serves as incentive to reduce the blow to the farmer, and to ensure they follow through, to 'get the diseased fish out of the bays' and 'make sure they don't go to the human food chain'...I would have thought these were good things. 2. Land based salmon farming is , at this time, not commercially viable even though there are a number of 'projects' exploring growing salmon to market...and many such projects that went under along the way. the technology is there and has been used for a long time for high value species and life stages, such as salmon smolt and broodstock. There have been some recent land based projects that have brought salmon to the market place but ,since they are raised in fresh water they taste different, some call it buttery, some call it muddy, and they are more expensive to buy, and they are not even marketed as salmon but something else...tell me how many people, who actually do buy farmed salmon , will actually pay more for something that tastes different and isn't even called salmon...would you buy your chicken like that? The other thing abour land based that must be kept in the forefront of any honest discussion is that if , IF, the salmon industry comes out of our bays and into tanks on land, it will not be in Newfoundland...the only reason its here now is because they need our coastal waters for high quality marine sites...they can build tanks much closer to the markets rather than truck them from NL...there is no reason to grow them out in Tanks in NL...too expensive to ship to market...so, all the jobs in salmon farming in NL will be gone...if you don't care about that, fine, but let us be honest about this fact when people call for going to land based, they are also calling for the loss of hundreds of jobs in rural NL.

  • paul
    May 26, 2014 - 08:30

    relax people, your tax $$ are not payign for these losses...the only time tax $$ pays is when CFIA orders stocks destroyed due to serious illness, as in ISA being detected. In that case its an incentive to ensure the stocks are destroyed and removed from the environment and market place , now is that not a good thing??? any other mortality is the farmers loss, unless they have insurance on their stock, which is very expensive...so relax , you aren't paying for their losses.

  • 1970's Experiment Gone Wrong
    May 20, 2014 - 08:28

    The state of grease floating from these giant cease pools is gagging. Its killing local wildlife like eagles, sea ducks, etc that get it on their feathers. The poor commercial harvesters of REAL wild fish and shellfish have to deal with the rotted grease all over their gear and the fish are full off salmon feed pellets/antibiotics/pesticides/toxins/etc. Get these environmental blights OUT OF OUR BAYS!

  • Maxwell J.
    May 14, 2014 - 14:55

    Still more evidence that fish farming is an oxymoron. If you want a farm, raise cows. Aquaculture deprives fish of their normal migratory reach, as well as their natural varied food supply. They are corralled into small, toxic pools where oxygen levels are severely depleted and where they live in their own excrement. Not only are products made from these fish unwholesome, but farmed fish are slowly compromising the DNA integrity of wild fish stocks. And yet our federal and provincial governments continue to subsidize this money-losing, disease plauged frankenfish industry.

    • Huck
      May 15, 2014 - 16:34

      I couldn't say it any better myself Maxwell. I refuse to eat this toxic crap and never miss an opportunity to enlighten others on why it's not fit to eat. Killing the market may be the only way to get the fish pens out of the water and onto the land.

  • Maxwell J.
    May 14, 2014 - 14:21

    Still more evidence that fish farming is an oxymoron. If you want a farm, raise cows. Aquaculture deprives fish of their normal migratory reach, as well as their natural varied food supply. They are corralled into small, toxic pools where oxygen levels are severely depleted and where they live in their own excrement. Not only are products made from these fish unwholesome, but farmed fish are slowly compromising the DNA integrity of wild fish stocks. And yet our federal and provincial governments continue to subsidize this money-losing, disease plauged frankenfish industry.

    • Virginia Waters
      May 14, 2014 - 15:25

      Well said. Most fish farms are situated near estuaries where toxins are concentrated. PCBs, pesticides, and all those other man-made chemicals flow down river and leach from the shoreline into surrounding waters. On land or on sea, fish farms are toxic elements of a corrupted food chain. Scientists warn against eating farmed fish more than once a month. I used to buy salmon at Costco until the federal government authorized the use of diseased fish for human consumption. Mind you, I never really liked it - a pale, tasteless imitation of a real salmon. A small sacrifice to help stave off cancer.

  • Doesn't make sense
    May 14, 2014 - 10:49

    Wouldn't be a problem if the pens were land based. Nor would disease, lice, predators, and escapes. It's only a matter of time before government gets fed up paying the tab for these unsustainable operations. We should be world leaders in the practice instead of copying third world operations

  • DH
    May 14, 2014 - 09:30

    When do you think the owners of these facilities will start looking at land operations? The pros for land based aquaculture far outweigh the pros for sea based aquaculture. Who's going to pay for this loss? Not the owners!

    • paul
      May 26, 2014 - 07:55

      land based systems are available and been used for a long time with success, for high value species and life stages...its used for salmon smolt production and salmon broodstock, but has not yet proven commercially viable for salmon grow out to market...lots of projects going on around the world with many of them gone under...and some experimental product gone to market, but they call it something other than salmon, because being raised in fresh water IS different and they taste different. some call it a buttery taste, others call it muddy. And , its more expensive when you buy it in a restaurant or supermarket...who really wants to pay more for something that's not really even called salmon...? another thing that has to be kept at the front of the discussion as people clammer to move salmon farming from sea cages in our bays , to land tanks...those tanks (if ever feasible) will not be in NL, they will be somewhere close to the market and transportation routes...on the mainland or in the USA, NOT in coastal Newfoundland. the ONLY reason salmon farming is here now is because the industry needs out coastal waters to grow salmon...take the salmon out of our bays and they will keep going out of our province..so no honest discussion can pretend that there will be no job losses in NL in tranistioning to land based salmon farms...they can set up tanks just about anywhere with a water supply, closer to the markets than remote Newfoundland.