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NL fisheries minister Gerry Byrne has reinstated 10 Mowi fish farm licences that were suspended in October. Photo: CBC.
NL fisheries minister Gerry Byrne has reinstated 10 Mowi fish farm licences that were suspended in October. Photo: CBC.

Mowi Canada East has won back 10 salmon farm licences that were suspended by Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries minister Gerry Byrne last year.

The suspension was due of the failure by Mowi subsidiary Northern Harvest Sea Farms to reveal in a timely manner the full facts about a mass mortality event in which around 2.6 million fish died.

Byrne reinstated the licences based on findings from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Marine Institute’s Independent Review of the Mass Mortality Event and the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) Post-mortality Event Environmental Monitoring Report.

Numerous protocols

In a press release, the NL government said that in the wake of the mass mortality event, Mowi had established numerous protocols and practices to better prevent or mitigate a similar event.

Further, through consistent openness and transparency, the company had been proactive in its efforts to regain the public trust that was significantly impaired by the mortality event.

The Marine Institute report concluded the salmon mortality event was due to an unusual set of natural environmental conditions, including prolonged high water temperatures over consecutive days, and low oxygen.

No impact on seabirds

MAMKA – a collaboration of Mi’kmaq First Nation communities including Qalipu First Nation and Miawpuek First Nation – noted in its environmental report that the amount of shoreline affected at the time of the incident was small, with no impact found on seabirds.

In the wake of the mass mortality, the Provincial Government’s Aquaculture Policies and Procedures have been strengthened and now include world-leading policies that compel companies to publicly disclose federally reportable disease and abnormal mortality events, regardless of cause, in a timely manner. Failure to do so could result in license suspension or cancellation.