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Cooke reaffirms no fish escapes in Jordan Bay from storm; Says mortality rate less than one per cent

A photo taken on Jan. 10 shows the damage to one the finfish pens in Jordan Bay that was damaged in the Jan. 4 weather bomb.
A photo taken on Jan. 10 shows the damage to one the finfish pens in Jordan Bay that was damaged in the Jan. 4 weather bomb. - Contributed

JORDAN BAY, N.S. – Asked the question again about loss of fish, Cooke Aquaculture has reaffirmed there were no fish escapes from the Kelley Cove Salmon Farm in Jordan Bay as a result of a severe winter storm in early January that caused extensive damage to the superstructures of the pen net cages known as the bird stands.

“The damage was mostly to bird protection structures, brackets, feed pipes, nothing that would impact the cage from containing the fish,” said Joel Richardson, vice-president public relations. The damage “didn’t compromise the integrity of the net pens themselves, the actual the cages for the fish,” he said.

The bird stands protrude high above the pen cages holding the fish, so are exposed to high winds and wave action, said Richardson. The feed pipes are just long pieces of PVC tubes used for feeding.

“It’s quite routine to be able to repair and replace those things after a large storm,” said Richardson. “When you do have big storm, you do have damage similar to fishing boats and other equipment in the marine environment. It does happen and as part of our farm management plan we work to repair any damage and make sure everything is done that needs to be done.

“We are in constant communication with Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture and we’ve also provided updates to residents through the community liaison committee,” he added. “We’ve been very straight forward and responsive to dealing with the damage that occurred.”

Richardson confirmed there was some fish mortality as a result of the storm, but it was very low levels at about 0.5 per cent.

“When you have a lot of wave action and movement it is very normal to have some level of mortality,” said Richardson. “It’s not unexpected during a large storm weather event. It’s part of operating in an exposed coastal marine environment.”

READ ALSO: RESIDENTS FIND IT HARD TO BELIEVE FISH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN LOST

Richardson said the company was hoping to wrap up repairs and cleanup this month, adding he has personally reached out to Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland and to Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell.

“(We) will be meeting with them very soon to provide them with an update and reassure to them the work that we’re doing, and we are following all the appropriate regulatory measures they ask us to follow,” he said.

Minister Colwell said he is “confident” with information he received from the Department of Environment, who did an inspection of the Jordan Bay fin farm after the storm and found no evidence of escapes.

“In addition, our regulations are rigid, and require the company to report any containment breaches. There are strict consequences if they do not report,” he said. “I am confident with the information I received that there was no evidence of any breech.”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:

FISH LOSS STORY FLUCTUATES LIKE THE WEATHER

AQUACULTURE DISASTER

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