“The exact chain of events is still being investigated, however, disruptive construction work close to the operating environment, including loud sounds and severe vibrations, stressed the fish,” said the company in a press release issued today.
The grow-out system in which the fish were effected had been stocked before being completed, meaning that the company did not have all the tools in place to deal with such issues.
“Recent challenges of delayed construction and commissioning, in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic impact, have resulted in increased risk in the operation at this time," they explained.
However, they noted that the facility's other grow-out systems had not been affected and that neither disease nor any sort of systemic malfunction was thought to be responsible.
“There is no indication of intoxication or disease being the cause of this event. The fact that some critical components and functionality of the farm are not yet operational limits the tools the company has to deal with non-conformities such as quickly moving fish out of systems if needed. The permanent fish movement system is planned to be operational shortly and would likely have mitigated this event,” they explained.
The fish to be harvested have a combined weight of 400 tons (HOG), of which only 150 tons (HOG) are planned to be sent for processing and for sale.
This is less than a quarter of the 700 tons forecast to be achieved by 200,000 fish if they were grown to standard market size. The shortfall is, in part, due to the facility’s permanent emergency harvest facility not yet being completed.
Phase 1 of the Atlantic Sapphire's Florida facility has an expected annual output of around 10,000 tons of salmon per year when it reaches capacity. The company is still planning its first conventional commercial harvest by the end of Q3 2020.