Residents Concerned about Sea Cage Damage

CBC News - Nova Scotia

Storm damage to St. Marys Bay salmon farm worries locals
Damage is minor, says Cooke Aquaculture

Posted: Feb 22, 2013 7:54 AM AT

Some residents in southwestern Nova Scotia say they're concerned about storms and the impact on aquaculture operations after salmon cages in the area were damaged by a recent storm.

Alex Patterson, who lives near St. Marys Bay, said he's worried farmed salmon from a Cooke Aquaculture site may be escaping into the wild.

"We've had a couple of fairly significant storms in the last little while," he told CBC News.

"Fishermen in our area that are fishing near there have noticed some significant damage to the cages."

Nell Halse, a spokeswoman for New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture, said there's no reason for concern because the damage is minor.

"The equipment is designed specifically to deal with these kinds of situations. That farm in St. Marys Bay has certainly undergone a number of other storms in the two years that they've been there and every time there is a storm you get these reports from people," she told CBC News.

"I suspect that some people are hoping that the whole farm will fall apart and our company will die but the reality is that yes, we sustained some minor damage. Our people are out there repairing but the damage is not structural."

The provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture Department said it will send an inspector to St. Marys Bay within the next few days to inspect the damage.

Brett Loney, a spokesman for the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, said Cooke Aquaculture is required to report any escapes within four hours of discovery and there have been no reports of any escapes so far.

"There was some bird nets and some safeguard handling rails that were damaged in the storm but nothing else," he said.

"Nothing of any significance."

Loney said the damage was above the waterline and Cooke Aquaculture has a variety of ways to check for escaped salmon.

"They do video monitoring to also determine whether there's been any damage or not and they routinely check it with divers," he said.

"That particular site, they were down checking their netting on Saturday."