Fire at Mowi Canada West farm leads to salmon escape

Published on
December 24, 2019

A fire at a Mowi Canada West salmon farm in British Columbia, Canada, has resulted in a large-scale escape.

The fire, which began either the evening of Friday, 20 December or the early morning of Saturday, 21 December, caused significant damage to a net-pen at the Robertson Island site, off Port Hardy, on the northern end of Victoria Island. Approximately 21,000 in the pen during the time of the fire had the opportunity to escape, and many did, according to a Mowi press release.

“We are doing everything possible to rapidly address this situation and determine what happened,” Mowi said.

As of Sunday, the pen was secured, and Mowi has made an offer to area First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada , and the provincial government to “to collaborate on (and fund) monitoring for and capture of any escaped salmon going up streams on B.C.’s coast and surveying for any juvenile Atlantics in coming years.”

Mowi said the escapees are unaccustomed to living in the wild and therefore would not easily survive when forced to forage for food or survive predation.

“Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm, it is likely many have already been eaten by predators,” Mowi said. “That said, we take our responsibility to prevent any impacts seriously, and will take every reasonable action to do so.”

The origin of the fire has not yet been discovered, according to a Mowi press release, but the company has launched an investigation to determine the incident’s root cause.

“If that investigation brings to light any actions we can take to prevent something like this from happening again in the future, we will take them,” the company said. “It is important that we understand what happened so we can mitigate any impacts and ensure something similar does not re-occur.”

The farm’s electrical system was installed two years ago, but Mowi Canada is reviewing all of its electrical systems “to ensure every possibility is being considered.”

“We apologize for this incident. We are determined to mitigate any impacts and do everything we can to minimize the risk of something similar happening in the future,” it said. “Mowi takes its responsibility to prevent escapes seriously, investing significantly in modern net pens, predator netting, and other technologies to minimize the risk of fish getting loose. We apologize that this has occurred, and plan to issue an update once a cause has been determined.”

Photo courtesy of Mowi Canada West

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