There is little comfort in the apology by Mowi CEO Aarskog to Premier Ball and Minister Byrne in relation to the suffocation of 2.6-million salmon in their net pens in August on our south coast.
Minister Byrne held a technical briefing recently to showcase his new policies, but it was by invitation only and the public was excluded, just like the public was excluded from the Mowi apology.
This is another example of the two-way discussion between the aquaculture industry and the N.L. government.
Mr. Aarskog did not apologize to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; nor to the workers who have lost their jobs; nor for the damage to the N.L. environment. Apparently, Mr. Aarskog was not available for media interviews. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile Minister Byrne continues to trumpet new policies and regulations that will supposedly deal with the problem(s) that led to the mass die-off of salmon.
This is a classic example of solving a problem without first defining the problem. No one really knows with certainty that warm water was responsible for this event. That would be the purpose of a properly conducted independent investigation — an investigation that is not taking place.
As matters stand, we simply do not know why or how or even how many of these salmon died. The Northern Harvest nets were 15 metres deep. According to Mr. Byrne a depth of 20 metres should do it.
Mr. Aarskog promises pens that are a minimum of 25 metres deep. However, Mr. Gaskill and other Northern Harvest spokespersons maintained that the warm temperatures leading to the kill were recorded right through the water column.
Climate change was even cited as the cause. So, five or 10 metres deeper may not be the answer. Deeper pens may not be the answer. Warm temperatures may not be the problem.
We need a proper legal review of this incident conducted by a competent, independent third party that the public can trust.
Let’s not forget that while this environmental fiasco continues to play out, Premier Ball is pushing ahead with his promise to grow the salmon aquaculture industry, apparently at any cost. Premier Ball made this clear in his mandate letter to Minister Byrne.
Government and Mowi were in N.L. Supreme Court recently fighting to avoid an Environmental Assessment of new production of 2.2-million salmon in the Mowi net pens. All this while Grieg, backed by government, pushes ahead with the largest salmon aquaculture project in Canadian history in Placentia Bay.
Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition for Aquaculture Reform (NL-CAR)