Cooke defends salmon feeding
August 14, 2013 - 6:18pm By BRUCE ERSKINE Business Reporter
Concerns about feeding changes at Cooke Aquaculture’s Jordan Bay salmon farms are unfounded, says a company spokeswoman.
“It’s purely a case of people who don’t understand our business,” Nell Halse said in an interview Wednesday from Trondheim, Norway.
Members of Mayday Jordan Bay, a local group opposed to open-pen salmon farms, emailed Fisheries and Aquaculture Department veterinarian Amanda Swim on Wednesday about feeding changes observed at one of the two Jordan Bay sites near Shelburne.
The group said feeding was discontinued at the site on Sunday and two large pans of dead fish were loaded on a truck with a New Brunswick licence plate at the Green Harbour wharf Monday.
The group asked Swim to explain the changes and whether they were related to the health of the fish.
Halse said the farms were changing the feed they use as the salmon mature.
“In the early stages, we use moist feed. We’re switching to dry feed. Both sites are being fed normally.”
She acknowledged that divers removed some dead fish from the Jordan Bay sites, but Halse said that is normal practice on fish farms.
“The number of mortalities is within normal levels.”
Cooke is using new mortality containers to take dead fish to composting sites, but she added that the containers observed this week weren’t full.
“Nothing unusual happened.”
Halse said she understands that people are monitoring the sites closely and suggested they call the company if they have any questions about operations.
Cooke officials were in Norway to attend Aqua Nor 2013, a major international aquaculture trade show held in Trondheim every two years.
Halse said industry and government officials from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, including Swim, were attending the show to find out more about how the aquaculture industry operates elsewhere.
Fisheries and Aquaculture spokeswoman Krista Higdon said Vimy Glass, her department’s aquaculture manager, and Derrick Jamieson, investment director with the Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department, were also at the show.
Halse said Cooke’s expansion plans in Nova Scotia, which have been met with vocal opposition, are proceeding on schedule.
The New Brunswick company plans to build a Digby fish hatchery next year and a Shelburne fish processing plant in 2015.
Cooke is now expanding a feed mill it owns in Truro.
Critics have expressed concerns about the outbreak of infectious salmon anemia at Cooke’s Nova Scotia farms, which they see as a threat to the wild marine environment.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has allowed Cooke to process and market infected salmon since the fish aren’t considered a human health risk.
Earlier this year, Cooke subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. reached a $500,000 settlement after pleading guilty to using an illegal pesticide to control sea lice in waters off southwestern New Brunswick.
Environment Canada found that the pesticide killed lobster.
Charges against Cooke executives, including chief executive officer Glenn Cooke, were dropped.