Article by Owen Meyers

On one side are independent scientists, salmon anglers, and conservation groups like the Atlantic Salmon Federation who point to the detrimental effects on wild salmon populations because of disease, escaped genetically modified fish, and the creating of parasitic populations of sea lice that can wipe out millions of fish.

On the other side are the industry boosters like Mark Lane, executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, who in his May 2nd  2016 letter to The Telegram, rolled out all the old platitudes about how aquaculture is the wave of the future. His submission is laden with words like “conservation” and “science” and phrases like “catalyst for rural revitalization from coast to coast” and “sustainable production practices.” It goes on and on.

The truth of growing salmon is available in documents out of the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick, where Gray Aqua Group of Companies (one of the biggest salmon farming companies in the Province) went into receivership on April 25th 2016. The affidavit of James W. Hall, vice president of the main creditor Callidus Capital Corporation, details all the things that have gone wrong with Gray Aqua’s operation on the South Coast.

Gray Aqua are $55 million in debt and this is their second receivership in two years. At paragraph 10 of his affidavit Hall describes how millions of salmon had to be destroyed in 2013 because they were infected with Infectious Salmon Anemia. That triggered the first receivership. Gray Aqua received $33 million in compensation from the Federal Government.

Then there was a massive sea lice infestation that killed off another $11.5 – $14.5M worth of salmon, and which crashed the company again.

Finally there was the loss of 380,000 smolt which had to be destroyed due to an outbreak of bacterial kidney disease.

As for the employees, Hall states in his affidavit that Grays Aqua has approximately 64 employees, none of which are unionized or have a pension plan. Gray Aqua are not the first salmon growing operation to go bankrupt. It is a high risk business and has a record of being a vector for disease to wild fish stocks.

Far from being an ecologically sustainable industry providing well-paying jobs for rural residents, aquaculture is a government-subsidized trainwreck resplendent with a comfortable and well paid cheerleading government aquaculture bureaucracy.The politicians from the rural ridings are desperate to be able to point at anything positive in their impoverished rural ridings.

In reality the taxpayers of the province are paying out millions in grants and subsidies to an industry that has the potential to destroy wild salmon stocks before it goes down in flames like the infamous Sprung Greenhouse cucumber failure of the late 1980’s that cost us taxpayers $17.5 million and was sold to investors for $1. 

To see the dark side of salmon farming  Google “Chile salmon disease.”