Canada: 'Doesn't look very pretty,' but photos of salmon cleanup not the whole story: Gerry Byrne - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada 'Doesn't look very pretty,' but photos of salmon cleanup not the whole story: Gerry Byrne

17:25  09 october  2019
17:25  09 october  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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The images of pink liquid flowing from boats are startling, but don't paint the whole picture of the effort to clean up a massive salmon die-off at a farming operation on Newfoundland's south coast, says the province's fisheries minister.

"Nope, it doesn't look very pretty at all, I can tell you that," says Gerry Byrne, who has not visited the site himself.

Byrne compared the public reaction to the photographs from Fortune Bay, where Northern Harvest Sea Farms is emptying out its salmon pens, to anti-seal hunt propaganda.

"I've seen some very, very emotive issues when it comes to the seal hunt which do not reflect the realities," he told CBC Radio's The Broadcast.

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They’ll clean it up , one way or the other, and be eternally grateful for your nutritious, calorific windfall. My only gripe is that it makes you look a a bit try-hard, like the bloke who brings his own pool cue to the pub. That, and you kind of give the game away when you peg it out on the line.

"So I would caution, before anyone draws a conclusion.… Just think through how certain industries have been victimized by the production of images which may be far in excess of what is the truth of what's happening here."

CBC News visited Fortune Bay last week, capturing underwater footage of the pink effluent. Fish began dying on Sept. 2 as the result of unusually high water temperatures at the Northern Harvest Sea Farms sites, a company owned by aquaculture giant Mowi.

The company has hired contract diving companies to assist in the cleanup operation. The salmon is separated from the water in the pens, and the water is then dumped back into the ocean, the company said.

The company said the pink colouring comes from salmon pigment, and it maintains the substance is harmless.

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It looked like they’d just chopped off the salmon ’s tail and stuffed it into a can. I needed to step away for a moment before I dealt with that lump of fish, so I put some nice tasty peas into some fish liquor. Very moist, not fishy as you’d think, wonderful in a pasta salad. It just doesn ’ t look very pretty .

The remaining salmon gets pulsed in the food processor very briefly, until there’s no piece bigger than a They’re pretty aggressive, but the salmon can take it because it’s a fatty piece of fish. I used Persian cucumbers and shaved them lengthwise just to change up the look , but you can obviously

Testing of the fish is already underway, said Byrne, with samples sent off to the Atlantic Veterinarian College on Prince Edward Island. He said there is no danger to the environment.

"There's a set of testing that's done by Fisheries and Land Resources and then the tissue samples are sent to the Atlantic Veterinarian College, as well as an institute within the University of New Brunswick," Byrne said.

"But there's been a lot of personalization around this issue, there's been a lot of like, 'Now's the time to really sort of dig in,' but a lot of these questions can be answered, and have been answered. Sometimes people don't want to hear the actual answer though."

CBC News requested a site tour from Northern Harvest Sea Farms, a subsidiary of Mowi, but that request was denied. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC News requested a site tour from Northern Harvest Sea Farms, a subsidiary of Mowi, but that request was denied.

Calls for investigation

However, in a letter, the provincial New Democrats is pushing for more answers, and in a letter called for Byrne to launch an immediate investigation into what the it called "this environmental disaster."

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NDP MHA James Dinn issued the letter Wednesday morning, asking Byrne to have an investigation carried out by Environment and Climate Change Canada, or an "arm's-length environmental consulting firm" that would be paid for by Mowi and Northern Harvest Sea Farms.

"Recent events have shaken public confidence in the environmental sustainability of open-net salmon aquaculture and the ability of the provincial government and the operators to manage it," the letter stated.

The NDP pointed to the delay in reporting of the massive die-off on the company's part and said there are unanswered questions that need to response if public trust is to be restored.

Byrne said he did not have the regulatory authority to publicly disclose the salmon deaths, even after the company reported it to the province.

The white substance, which appears to be remnants of dead fish, is accumulating in coves and on the rocks in the nearby area. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation The white substance, which appears to be remnants of dead fish, is accumulating in coves and on the rocks in the nearby area.

No more than 2 million fish

Meanwhile, Byrne insists the federal government is the body with that regulatory authority.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has said the situation is being monitored.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said it is working with DFO and other partners, including the provincial government, "to ensure the health of Canada's marine environment," and is gathering further information from the south coast and cannot comment further.

While the exact number of dead fish is still unknown, Byrne did say it's impossible to be more than two million salmon, since that is the capacity of the pens.

"There are still live fish in some of the sites," he said.

"The total stocking density of all the sites that were impacted was no greater than two million fish and the number of mortalities is not two million, it is less than that. That number will be revealed when the information is compiled, but you can't report something that you don't know."

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