CANADA - The federal government quietly paid $4.1 million in compensation to two aquaculture companies in British Columbia that had to destroy fish effected by infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHN) in 2012.
The payments came from a program that has paid out C$94 million since 2011 — mostly to East Coast fish farmers — to cover losses from exposure to disease, reports VancouverSun.
The payments of C$2.8 million to Cermaq Canada and C$1.3 million to Grieg Seafoods are outlined in federal documents about the culls after fish farm exposure to IHNv.
A government critic said that the disease outbreak, and the payments, should ring an alarm about the Harper government’s recently-announced steps to expand the B.C. industry after years of stalled growth due to environmental concerns.
“It’s another reason why expansion of the industry is reckless. If there are (more farms) Canadians can expect to pay more in compensations, too,” said Stan Proboszcz, a fisheries biologist at Watershed Watch.
Industry officials said the outbreaks were limited to three farms, of which two were compensated, and were isolated incidents involving a virus that is no danger to humans.
The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association said the industry has a legitimate claim to compensation.
“These funds are designed to help cushion all farmers (fish, chicken, pig, produce etc.) from that difficult impact, to encourage responsible management choices for the broader farming community, and to help provide security to the country’s food supply,” executive director Jeremy Dunn stated in an email.
The compensation is intended to cover the investment in the salmon up to the point of the cull, and not the full market value, he said.
It was the first outbreak of the disease in B.C. in nine years and there hasn’t been one since, according to the association.
TheFishSite News Desk