Statement from Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO of Mowi ASA November 8, 2019
November 7, 2019
Premier Dwight Ball
Minister Gerry Byrne
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
P.O. Box 8700
St. John’s, NL
Dear Premier Ball and Minister Byrne,
As the CEO of Mowi ASA, I appreciate the opportunity to meet with both of you. 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 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, Mowi commits to the following:
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 to optimal 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.
Regarding the mass mortality event itself, 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.
Mowi purchased Northern Harvest in July of 2018, and has only been operating it for a little more than a year. We acquired the company “as-is,” with the existing equipment being home to fish that were already growing in the water. In fairness to Northern Harvest’s previous owner, they operated for years using nets with a total depth of 15 meters, and they did not experience the kind of event that we saw this summer. As Newfoundland and Labrador employs a bay management area strategy, where specific areas of the coastline are studied and understood before companies can operate there, it was reasonable to believe the equipment that was put in place by the previous owner was suitable for success in the Fortune Bay area.
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.
Mowi is committed to developing sustainable salmon aquaculture in Newfoundland and Labrador, just as we have in other countries. We have already contributed to new developments in this province, such as the application of NS9415 engineering standard to our new sites and to sites that we will rebuild, and we are working towards a cunner fishery that will benefit both aquaculture and traditional fishers. We have contributed input on strengthened industry practices. We have also already invested close to 400 Million Canadian Dollars in Atlantic Canada.
We want to continue to make positive contributions and investments that benefit the industry in this province, provide employment, and contribute to a more robust future for rural families and communities. However, we cannot do this without a predictable and transparent regulatory framework, access to sites, and a clear pathway to be able to stock those sites with smolt.
It is my hope as CEO of the largest salmon producing company in the world, that you will accept my apology on behalf of Mowi, appreciate our commitment and our capacity to help build a better future, and work with us to create a shared set of expectations about what must be done to move forward in a positive way that creates benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Mowi CEO Letter to Gov NL – November 8