Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett says a recent incident of Cooke Aquaculture's farmed salmon escaping from into Hermitage Bay compounds concern over an earlier escape on the Garnish River.
Bennett said in a news release, he's been informed that the number is closer to 50,000 rather than the reported 20,000.
The MHA for St. Barbe has written the minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada as well as the provincial minister of fisheries and aquaculture to seek answers on both incidents and what impacts they will have on wild salmon stocks.
“This recent escape is larger than the counts that are reported on many of our wild salmon rivers across the island,” said Bennett, adding the number also far exceeds any escape of farmed salmon since 1999.
Bennett said one of the consequences of interbreeding between wild and farmed salmon is offspring that are less likely to survive and reproduce. “Furthermore, " he said, "these escaped farmed salmon increase the chance of diseases being transmitted to the wild stock.”
Bennett said it has been proven that salmon farming is detrimental to wild salmon. "It is time the minister of fisheries and the minister responsible for inland fisheries seriously ask themselves if they are being responsible stewards of our wild stocks or have they sold out to the aquaculture industry? Where is the oversight?” Bennett said.