'Significant' fish kill not result of disease: fish vet
N.S. chief fish veterinarian says cold weather, storms likely caused fish deaths
An infectious fish disease is not to blame for a "significant" fish kill last month at a salmon farm on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore, according to the province's chief fish veterinarian.
"We did not find any reportable disease at the site," said Dr. Roland Cusack.
Nova Scotia's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture tested 30 dead salmon taken Feb. 28 from six pens at the Snow Island Salmon Inc. operation at Owl's Head, N.S.
The department released the results on Friday.
"We look for everything. In this case infectious salmon anaemia is the reportable disease we were looking for, we did not find that," said Cusack.
In 2012, ISA outbreaks led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of salmon at fish farms owned by Cooke Aquaculture in southwest Nova Scotia.
Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) is a highly contagious and deadly to fish but harmless to humans.
Cusack said cold water and stormy weather in February are the likely cause of the fish kill last month.
The company blamed the weather from the start.
"We're pleased with the results although they are not surprising." said Robert Taylor of Snow Island Salmon, a subsidiary of Scotland’s Loch Duart Ltd.
The Owl's Head site has 24 pens, each containing between 15,000 and 17,000 fish.
The company has not said how many salmon perished. Some fish did survive.
Dead fish are being trucked away to rendering plant.
Taylor said this fish kill will not deter Snow Island from opening two more fish farms in the area.
"We are committed to developing salmon farming on the Eastern Shore and to keeping our employees," he said.
Opponents of the company's expansion, like Bill Williams of Sheet Harbour, say this fish kill shows the Eastern Shore's shallow bays make the area ill-suited to salmon farming.
"If those two bays had been stocked with fish there would have been three bays of dead fish to clean up rather than one," Williams told CBC News.
Snow Island is still removing dead fish from its pens.
The company said it will release more details — including the number of fish killed — after its insurance company completes its investigation.