St. Mary's Bay Coastal Alliance is calling on Cooke Aquaculture Ltd. and
the Province of Nova Scotia to immediately explain the disappearance of
upwards of 500,000 salmon from a Cooke aquaculture site in St. Mary's Bay.
According to an affidavit sworn to in November, 2011 by Jeff Nickerson, Salt
Water Production Manager for Cooke's subsidiary Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.,
there were 685,000 fish in the lease area, which includes the Grand passage
and Freeport farmed salmon sites. Nickerson also stated that based on Kelly
Cove experience, 90% of the fish would survive to market size and would be
harvested in late 2012 or early 2013.
"There should be just over 600,000 fish currently in the aquaculture site,
and that is clearly not the case," says Alex Patterson, with St. Mary's Bay
Coastal Alliance. "We need to know where those fish went."
It would appear that there are now only two cages in the Grand Passage
site holding fish, which would amount to in the order of 100-150,000 fish.
From discussions with officials at the Meteghan Wharf Authority, SMBCA has
learned that, over the past month, thousands of dead or dying salmon from
the St. Mary's Bay aquaculture site have been trucked to unknown locations.
"The explanation given by Cooke's for the death of these fish is that their
scales have been beaten off due to wind and tidal action in the Bay," says
On February 21, Timmy Crocker, a lobster fisherman from Freeport,
contacted Marshall Giles, Director of Aquaculture for the Province of Nova
Scotia to express his concerns about the 'missing' fish. Mr. Crocker was
concerned, given the considerable attention recently afforded the suspected
outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) at a Cooke farm in Shelburne,
Nova Scotia and the decision by Cooke to destroy a large number of fish from
that site. Mr. Giles told Crocker that the Provincial veterinarian was on
site at St. Mary's Bay on a regular basis and that ISA has not been detected
at the Cooke's operation in St. Mary's Bay.
Mr. Giles told Mr. Crocker that it is 'totally normal' for a salmon
farming operation to lose 3/4 of their fish over a production cycle and that
most of those losses would occur over the winter months. That certainly is
not consistent with statements made by Mr. Nickerson or with accepted
industry standards and the discrepancy is alarming. "As the acceptable
standard for crop loss of ocean penned fish is close to 10%, and as the
Director of Aquaculture for the Province should understand basic mortality
rates for farmed salmon," asks Patterson, "why did Marshall Giles tell Mr.
Crocker it was 750% greater than that?"
A Cooke Aquaculture employee was also observed transporting fish totes of
dead salmon to the dump in Digby. On February 16, 2012, a Cooke employee was
seen leaving eight fish-filled totes at the dump. It is estimated that would
be in the order of 1,200 lbs. of salmon. It is thought that these fish might
be from Cooke's Brier Island site.
Cooke and the Province knew at least a full fifteen days of the ISA
suspicion in Shelburne before making any public disclosure. Cooke and the
Province have refused to disclose the location of the ISA suspicion in
Shelburne, causing widespread concern about the ability of the firm and the
Province to be transparent with citizens, local governments and fisherman
about this potential outbreak.
SMBCA calls on Cooke Aquaculture and Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture
Minister Sterling Belliveau to immediately disclose all of the facts
relating to the disappearance of many thousands of fish at the St. Mary's
Bay site, the reasons for the death of so many farmed salmon from the area,
the location of their disposal and the facts surrounding the disposal of
many dead fish at the Digby dump.
St. Mary's Bay Coastal Alliance