Mowi CEO makes public apology: “We did not live up to both your, and our own expectations”

“I want to begin right away by acknowledging a mistake that our company made,” writes Alf-Helge Aarskog as he says sorry on for not reporting Northern Harvest mass mortality information properly. Affected licences are still suspended.

After a visit with the Newfoundlands’ Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne and PM Dwight Ball, Mowi CEO has made a public statement apologising for the way it reported its mass mortality event.

In a letter published on Friday eve, Alf-Helge Aarskog wrote:

“I want to begin right away by acknowledging a mistake that our company made while responding to a significant, unexpected, and unfortunate climate event this summer that took half our fish in Newfoundland and Labrador. In not providing mortality information properly after the mass mortality was first reported in September, we did not live up to both your, and our own expectations.

“For this, I personally and sincerely apologize as CEO on behalf of Mowi ASA. We have already taken steps to ensure training and reporting mechanisms are in place at the site level to ensure timely reporting of mortalities in the future. This is part of how we ensure that it never happens again.

“We also understand that new requirements and regulations will be announced, and we welcome discussions with you on these requirements. In order to prevent this type of thing from happening again.”

Photo-composite: Screenshot CBC and NL fisheries minister Gerry Byrne (Wikipedia)

On the incident itself, the CEO wrote: “This is the first time we have seen such water temperature extremes that resulted in fish death in Newfoundland and Labrador. Temperature data that we received while we were contemplating the purchase of Northern Harvest Sea Farms did not indicate that such events were possible”.

Changes must be made
Aarskog added that “Mowi did not change the nets that were already in use because we had no way of knowing that this climate event would occur. We have learned that the environment on the South Coast is more unpredictable than expected, and we clearly recognize that changes must be made”.

After meeting with Byrne and Ball, Aarskog added that he would commit the salmon farm to new best practices which include:

  • 1.Data logging and submission of environmental parameters including oxygen, temperature, and salinity; with real-time capability added as it becomes available.
  • 2.All current and new sites are to be fitted with nets that have a total minimum depth of 25 meters. This is to ensure all our salmon have access tooptimal water temperatures.
  • 3.All sites are to be equipped with aeration systems to protect against temperature and oxygen issues.
  • 4.An enhanced mass mortality response plan, developed in conjunction with federal and provincial regulators, including more rapid removal ability, and access to greater boat capacity.
  • 5.Enhanced training for our personnel so that they can be better prepared for future emergency events. The lessons learned from this event will provide guidance for an improved and more responsive contingency plan for any future emergency event, including mass mortality.
  • 6.Mowi will also work with the Federal Government to secure timely access to boats (well boats, seiners, etc.) that are able to assist with emergencies in the future. As part of this experience we learned there are delays created by regulatory process that can prevent large scale well boats from entering Canadian waters on short notice, and we now have an opportunity to adapt to this reality and prepare for the future.

In a statement to SalmonBusiness, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources wrote that it now has published a set of modernised aquaculture policies and procedures:

“Premier Dwight Ball and Minister Gerry Byrne met with Mowi CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog on Thursday, November 7 to discuss the recent mass salmon mortality on the south coast and the company’s plans for the future. All participants reiterated their commitment to the people of the south coast and acknowledged the tireless work of those who have been handling the clean-up. The Premier and Minister Byrne accepted the company’s apology for its handling of the event and impact on public trust. The company has affirmed and embraced the province’s regulatory regime for the aquaculture industry, and outlined its plan for moving forward, including a commitment to enhanced public reporting, enhanced mitigation plans, and an enhanced capacity to handle unexpected situations when they occur”.