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Marine Harvest Canada pleads guilty to bycatch charge
January 18, 2012
Today, Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) has entered a guilty plea to a charge of incidental catch (bycatch) at its salmon farming operations. A fine of $5000 will be made immediately to a conservation organization on Vancouver Island.
The charge (failure to return incidentally captured Pacific herring to the place where they were taken) stems from an occurrence in late 2009 when the company was transporting its fish.
Although incidental catch of wild fish is rare at BC salmon farmsi, Marine Harvest Canada takes this issue seriously and has made modifications to equipment to minimize further interceptions.
"Fish separators are now installed on our grading vessels to make sure we can effectively separate and immediately return all non aquaculture fish back to the same waters alive," explains John Olney, Captain of MHC's Orca Chief.
Modifications to transport tanks have also been completed.
Incidental Catch Separating Table
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) includes monitoring and reporting of incidental catch at BC salmon farms in its Marine Finfish Commercial Aquaculture License (section 11).ii Data is reporting quarterly at DFO's website.iii
"We certainly did not intend to harm any fish during the transport of our fish, and have made significant changes to our operations and practices to prevent this type of incident from occurring again," says Vincent Erenst, MHC's Managing Director. "We accept our responsibility in this matter."
The Tsolum River Restoration Society (Courtenay, BC) will receive $5000 from MHC to help continue its work to restore the health and productivity of the Tsolum River watershed.iv
MHC is BC's leading salmon aquaculture company with 500 staff employed at its freshwater hatcheries, saltwater farms and processing plants.
Ian Roberts, Communications Manager: 250-850-3276 (7256)
View a video of bycatch separators at Marine Harvest Canada here