St. Stephen Provincial Court ordered Kelly Cove Salmon, a subsidiary of Cooke Aquaculture, to pay a total of C$500,000 one of the largest and most significant penalties ever levied in Canada under the Fisheries Act. C50,000 of the penalty will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund, another C$250,000 will be directed towards scholarships, another C$100,000 will be directed in support of environmental studies and research projects, and the remaining C$100,000 is the court fine.
Kelly Cove Salmon pleaded guilty to releasing cypermethrin into fish-bearing waters in southwestern New Brunswick. Cypermethrin is an agricultural pesticide that is not permitted for use in marine environments because of its proven toxicity to crustaceans, including lobsters and shrimp.
Cooke Aquaculture used the pesticide to address a major sea lice infestation in their open pen salmon farm, knowing that it was illegal to do so.
On November 19, 2009, Environment Canada was informed that lobster fishers in southwestern New Brunswick were finding dead and dying lobsters in their traps. Environmental Enforcement officers subsequently collected samples of the affected lobsters from Grand Manan and Deer Island, as well as fish, mussels and kelp in the areas where the lobsters were found. These samples were sent to Environment Canada’s lab in Moncton for forensic analysis. Results proved the dead lobsters collected in Grand Manan and Deer Island were exposed to cypermethrin.
Following the fine, Cooke Aquaculture CEO, Glenn Cooke, released a statement saying: "We made the difficult decision not to fight these charges even though we question the allegations. Our main reason for this decision was to relieve our people, our company and our customers from a lengthy and public court battle. We want to resolve this matter today and move on.
"As CEO I have taken exceptional measures to ensure the health of our fish and the health of the marine environment. This includes significant investment in green sea lice management. We have invested millions of dollars into well boat technology, into the effective use of hydrogen peroxide as a bath treatment, and into lab and field trials on the use of the native cunner as cleaner fish-fish that will eat sea lice from salmon in net pens. We continue to explore the benefits of using lice traps and the possibility of building sea lice resistance into our breeding programme.
"At the same time we have made the very difficult decision to limit stocking of those New Brunswick farms that experienced warmer water temperatures and higher sea lice levels in 2009-2010. We cannot stock these farms until the industry has access to a full suite of pest treatment and management tools. Unfortunately, this will have negative consequences for jobs and for the local economy.
"We will continue to review and improve internal protocols and auditing procedures to the highest standards. My family, my management team and Iremain committed to science and research as
fundamental to our business. Our scientists and veterinarians have participated in international sea lice conferences and have sought the best advice and expertise worldwide. We collaborate with our industry colleagues and scientists to collect and monitor fish health data so that we can make the best management decisions.
"Fish health is at the core of our business as farmers - as is the sustainability and health of our farms and the marine environment on which we depend. I will continue to strive with the other members of the working waterfront, government and the science community to sustain a strong and responsible aquaculture and fishery industry in Atlantic Canada. And finally, I remain committed to maintaining the trust that we have developed with our valued customers, neighbours and colleagues," he concluded.