Elevated fish mortality reported at delivery

October 17, 2017 – Campbell River, B.C.

Marine Harvest Canada is reporting elevated mortality during its salmon smolt delivery this morning at its Port Elizabeth farm. Delayed delivery and possible mechanical problems with the delivery vessel are thought to be likely the cause.

“We estimate 2 or 3 per cent of the fish delivered did not make the transition from freshwater to saltwater, which is very rare,” says Dougie Hunter, Production Director at Marine Harvest. “Staff at our hatcheries and ocean sites are reviewing what occurred today to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The company has had to adjust its delivery schedule to daylight hours to address safety issues concerning activists protesting at the delivery site, which has resulted in fish being held for up to 10 additional hours within the delivery vessel. Another hour was delayed this morning when protesters attempted to block the delivery. 

“These delays have caused additional stress to the fish, which may have added to the mortality this morning,” says Hunter. “We will now return back to our normal delivery routine which is best for the fish.”

Estimates by site staff indicate less than 5000 fish (weighing 150 grams) died from the 180,000 fish delivered.

“We are aware that some protesters witnessed the delivery this morning and may suggest the fish died from disease, but we know this isn’t the case,” Hunter says. “The fish delivered were in good shape leaving the hatchery, but unfortunately some looked in poor condition when unloaded this morning. Our staff are very upset that this has occurred.”

In accordance with aquaculture regulations, the fish delivered were screened for all diseases of concern before delivery and confirmed no infectious diseases present. Negative findings were confirmed by accredited third-party laboratories for IHN, ISA, VHS and PRV.

The company has asked veterinarians at Fisheries and Oceans Canada to visit the site to obtain samples.