During a routine sampling of the fish scheduled to transfer to sea this summer from Grieg Seafood Newfoundland’s Marystown hatchery, one fish provided a suspect detection of ISA. Over the last weeks, 295 additional samples have been collected and analyzed by Provincial Veterinary Authorities. All samples have provided negative results and no ISA was detected.
While it would be possible to transfer the fish to sea under restrictions, Grieg Seafood Newfoundland has decided to apply the precautionary approach and not transfer fish to the sea. Placentia Bay is a promising area for salmon farming with no known history of ISA. Grieg Seafood Newfoundland will not risk introducing the virus into the environment. The company has stated all along that the farming region will be developed gradually and responsibly, to optimize biological conditions and to ensure sustainable operations.
As a result, the company said that almost one million fish that were scheduled for sea transfer this summer will be culled. All of these fish are in the same RAS system as the one fish with the detection, and the company would not have been able to maintain its fish health and welfare standard in the sea should the virus exist in this fish group.
A thorough review is initiated to find out why an ISA detection occurred, and measures will subsequently be put in place to avoid similar occurrences in the future.
During the spring and summer of 2022, around three million fish are planned to be transferred to the sea, in accordance with the original schedule. These eggs and fish are currently growing well in a separate building in the Marystown facility. Fish will be harvested in 2023 and 2024.
“We have said from the beginning that we will develop our farming operations in Placentia Bay gradually, responsibly and sustainably. As such, we believe it is right to apply the precautionary approach in this situation and postpone the transfer to sea to the spring of 2022. Even though none of the additional 295 samples detected any virus, we do not want to risk introducing ISA into the environment and possibly farm fish in the sea without optimal conditions for fish health and welfare,” said Knut Skeidsvoll, managing director of Grieg Seafood Newfoundland.