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Mowi says half of Northern Harvest farmed salmon dead, admits failure in reporting mortalities

Group is now waiting 'until further notice' on the government's next steps.

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The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government on Friday suspended 10 of the 47 licenses in the province to salmon farming giant Mowi "until further notice," the company announced.

Newfoundland Minister of Fisheries and Land Resource Gerry Byrne on Friday announced that he was suspending the farming licenses of Mowi Canada East's Northern Harvest operations after reports of additional netpens at the company's sites were impacted by a"mass salmon mortality" that first hit the company's sites last month.

In response to Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources Gerry Byrne's announcement of the suspension, Jamie Gaskill, managing director for Northern Harvest, said the company is being "advised of the conditions that the government will place in order to have that suspension lifted."

"We of course accept the decision, and we are committed to satisfying those conditions once we receive them," he said.

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Gaskill said the company has cleaned up 87 percent of what is has now confirmed to be a massive salmon die-off from warm water temperatures in September of 2.6 million salmon at over six sites. The fish weighed 4.5 pounds, and were not market-sized yet, according to the company.

"In addition, we have identified 600,000 more fish that we believe were weakened by the temperature event and died as a result. This was reported to government today," he said.

Gaskill said the additional fish should have been reported earlier.

"I take responsibility for this personally as the Managing Director of the company," he said. "We were too focused on clean up efforts, and we have learned from this experience."

Mowi Canada holds in total 59 licenses in Canada East, of which 47 in Newfoundland and 12 in New Brunswick.

New environmental monitoring partnership

Noting concerns over the environmental impacts of the die-off, Mowi is now engaged with “MAMKA,” a First Nations marine stewardship organization, to monitor the extent of the effect of the event and to monitor the recovery of the surrounding environment. The development of the monitoring plan is being guided by several federal agencies, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Canadian Wildlife Service, according to Mowi.

The results of that report will be made public.

Earlier in October, Byrne said an independent audit of Northern Harvest would be conducted by Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Marine Institute.

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