Fisheries and Aquaculture; July 12, 2012: The Newfoundland and Labrador aquaculture industry has a reputation for safe, high-quality fish and seafood products produced in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Since the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the presence of Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus at a salmon farm on the south coast of the province, there has been some public discussion about the development of aquaculture and the impact it has on our environment,” said the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

“It is important that all information be presented in a factual manner. Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus occurs naturally in the wild, it is not created through activities related to aquaculture and it cannot be linked to declining wild fish stocks. In addition, farmed salmon is completely safe for human consumption.”

In a global context, wild Atlantic salmon populations have been struggling due to poor marine survival for decades. The causes would include illegal fishing, by-catch and changes to marine ecosystems. This trend was first observed in the southern distribution of Atlantic salmon, in Maine, and has been tracked north for years.

“Understanding the causes of poor marine survival of wild Atlantic salmon is important,” said Minister King. “We continue to work with Department of Fisheries and Oceans on salmon science and encourage them to make this work a top priority.”

Farmed salmon is safe to eat and Newfoundland and Labrador upholds the highest standards in all aspects of aquaculture production.

“Newfoundland and Labrador farmed salmon is second to none in terms of quality, taste and food safety,” said Minister King. “While Infectious Salmon Anaemia is a federally reportable disease, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed what the industry has said since the beginning – the presence of this virus does not affect human health or food safety.”

The aquaculture industry consists of 133 aquaculture sites throughout the province and continues to provide essential employment for those living in many coastal and remote communities. In 2011, production rose 12.4 per cent from 15,360 tonnes to 17,264 tonnes. Total market value of the product increased to $120 million.

“The Provincial Government recognizes the importance of this industry for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and we continue to uphold the highest standards for production and processing,” said Minister King. “Our government is committed to supporting the development of an aquaculture industry that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.”

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Media contact: Bradley Power, Director of Communications, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 709-729-3733, 699-5707,