NL Salmon Escapes DO Add Up to More than 750,000


In her letter to The Telegram published June 7, Miranda Prior, Executive Director of the NL Aquaculture Industry Association, accuses Bill Taylor, President of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, of being “grossly inaccurate.”   Bill had cited 750,000reported fish escaping from the aquaculture industry’s sea cages in Newfoundland  in his commentary that appeared earlier in The Telegram.

The number Bill Taylor used was provided at the Annual Fisheries and Oceans Canada Salmonid Advisory Workshop that took place in Gander last fall. A joint presentation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Newfoundland and Labrador provided numbers that added up to 784,672 escaped salmonids (Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and char).  All of these farmed fish threaten wild salmon as they are vectors for spreading Infectious Salmon Anemia, bacterial diseases, and sea lice and they compete with wild salmon for food, space and spawning gravel.  In addition, when escaped farmed salmon and wild salmon interbreed, this contributes to weakening of the wild gene pool over time, which can eventually wipe out the wild run.

I would add that the 784,672 does not include the escape that took place last fall from the Cooke Aquaculture site in Hermitage Bay, reported to be 20,000 farmed salmon, nor does it include any chronic trickle losses, unreported escapes, or losses due to accounting errors.  So the total number of salmonid escapes is now over 800,000.

Public reporting of escapes and a long-term data base of all incidents of farmed escapes, the location of the incident, and the number of escapees are needed.  It would make sense for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as the department with ultimate responsibility for protecting wild salmon and dealing with the impacts of fish farming, to post this information to a website in a timely manner.  It is a telling statement on the lack of government transparency and accountability when the public and media are forced to submit requests to Access to Information to get accurate details on escape incidents.  

I note that Ms Pryor invites the media to contact her for accurate information.  The media might also want to check with independent sources to end up with as factual information as possible for those who follow the news.


Original Letter of Miranda Pryor:


Salmon federation info ‘grossly inaccurate’

JUNE 7, 2014

I’m writing to correct the grossly inaccurate information provided to this newspaper by Bill Taylor, president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Among the many unsubstantiated assertions Taylor made about salmon farming, one in particular cannot go unchallenged.

He claimed that 750,000 farmed salmon have escaped from net pens in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past 10 years.

This is simply not true.

In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture report escapes of 21,600 salmon, 88,878 trout and 69,827 char over the past 10 years.

Less than one per cent

The salmon escapes represent less than one per cent of the total number of salmon in the water at any one time.

Taylor did not cite any source for his inaccurate number, yet unfortunately, it was published nonetheless.

I invite the media to contact me if you have questions about our industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I am more than happy to provide sourced and accurate information.

Miranda Pryor
Executive director
Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association