RE: Fish Escapes at West Coast Fishculture (Lois Lake) Farm
On May 1, 2014, we discovered a tear in one of our fish pens during a routine grading operation. Careful examination determined that the net was most likely torn by a propeller while being moved during the grading procedure. No other holes were found but our staff concluded that approximately 13,000 Steelhead had escaped. The fish had an average weight of 464 grams. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was notified within 24 hours of this incident and a full report has been filed.
Our farm has been in operation since 1988 and we are extremely proud of our strong record and excellent relationship with our community. Our most important goal is to produce a premium quality fish that our customers enjoy while maintaining the highest standard of environmental responsibility. Regular grading of the fish benefits growth while easing stress. Our farmed Steelhead are a non-invasive species to Lois Lake and we are confident that the fish pose no threat to any native species or to the local environment. Fish loss due to an escape event impacts our company’s reputation and financial bottom line, hence we are taking this incident very seriously and taking all the necessary steps to ensure that it does not happen again.
Our staff strictly adhere to our Company’s Standard Operating Procedures and our divers inspect our pens routinely. We are providing additional training to our staff, upgrading our fish transfer system and procedures, and adding safeguards around our propellers. In addition to increased vigilance in following our protocols, we are introducing AgriMarine’s semi-closed solid wall floating tank technology. Four AgriMarine System™ 24-meter tanks are now being installed at our farm in Lois Lake, which will bring added benefits to our fish production and reduce the likelihood of escapes.