News Release – (UPDATE 24th December) Cause of fire determined, recovery work underway
(2 p.m. Tuesday, December 24, 2019) – We have determined the damage to a pen on the Robertson Island farm over the weekend was very likely caused by an electrical fire. The fire damaged the floats supporting the pen as well as the surrounding netting, causing the pen to partially submerge and creating a gap allowing most salmon to escape.
There were approximately 21,000 fish remaining in the pen at the time of the fire, as most fish at the site had already been harvested last week. Workers have removed about 1,200 remaining salmon from the pen, so about 20,000 escaped. Harvesting of the entire farm has been completed over the last few days, so there are no fish remaining at the site.
While many of the escaped fish have likely been eaten by seals and sea lions congregating in the area, we will be working to recover as many of the remaining salmon as possible. We are coordinating with the DFO and area First Nations to survey streams and other waterways in the region starting this week in order to catch any Atlantic salmon observed. Mowi will of course fully fund this work. Additional efforts have been suggested and are being discussed with First Nations and the DFO.
The damaged pen will be towed to a secure site on land for further investigation and dismantling in the coming days.
Mowi would like to again apologize for this incident. We have used net pens of this design for more than 20 years in B.C. with few issues, but if our investigation turns up any actions we can take to ensure this does not happen again we will take them. We will also be inspecting the electrical systems on all our farms in the coming days
UPDATE – Taking action following fish farm escape related to fire
(1 p.m. Sunday, December 22, 2019) – Mowi Canada West is taking several actions following confirmation yesterday that salmon escaped from a Robertson Island farm pen due to a fire. It is important that we understand what happened so we can mitigate any impacts and ensure something similar does not re-occur.
We do not yet know what caused the fire. The pen has been secured and a full investigation launched 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.
While it has not been confirmed this was an electrical fire, to ensure every possibility is being considered we will simultaneously be conducting a full review of the electrical systems on all our farms. This farm’s electrical system was installed just two years ago.
We are speaking with area First Nations, the DFO, and Province of B.C. We will be offering 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.
Also, the escaped fish are farm animals unaccustomed to living in the wild, and thus unable to forage for their own food and easy prey. Judging by the number of sea lions congregating near the involved farm it is likely many have already been eaten by predators. That said, we take our responsibility to prevent any impacts seriously, and will take every reasonable action to do so.
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.
UPDATE – Most fish remaining in damaged Robertson Island pen escaped
(7 p.m. Saturday, December 21) –Divers investigating our Robertson Island farm pen damaged by a fire have confirmed most salmon in the pen escaped.
Those fish remaining in the pen have been secured, and will be removed.
The farm was being harvested last week, so most fish had already been removed from the pen. Approximately 21,000 remained at the time of the fire.
Once all fish are removed the pen will be towed to land and an investigation undertaken to determine what caused the fire.
We have informed federal regulators and area First Nations about this development.
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.
News Release – Incident at Robertson Island causes potential fish escape
(Noon Saturday, December 21) – Farm workers at our Robertson Island site off Port Hardy noted damage to one pen during routine work the morning of December 20. They immediately notified supervisors, who dispatched crews to the site and notified DFO and local First Nations.
We are doing everything possible to rapidly address this situation and determine what happened.
What we know at this time is that it appears there was a fire at the site overnight, which caused significant damage to the net pen structure and nets. No employees were injured.
Fish on the farm were being harvested this week, so there were only 21,000 salmon in the pen at the time of the event as most had already been removed and shipped.
At this time it is not known whether or how many fish might have escaped. Divers are back in the water now to investigate further, determine whether any fish escaped, and repair the pen as quickly as possible. We are also dispatching a harvest boat, which will remove the remaining fish from the pen this weekend.
Mowi takes its responsibility to prevent escapes seriously, and has invested significantly in modern net pens, predator netting, and other technologies to minimize the risk of fish getting loose.
We will issue an update once more information becomes available.