Below are: the May 12, 2018, statements from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Cermaq Canada, followed by the May 11, 2018 statement from SeaChoice which preceded them; all three unedited:
ASC statement regarding sea lice issue in Clayoquot Sound, Canada
Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) always welcomes input from stakeholders aiming to help improve ASC’s standards and certification processes. Consultation, transparency and independence are central to ASC’s values and our dedication to maintaining the leading social and environmental standards for aquaculture.
To ensure our programme remains effective and meaningful, we are committed to continual review of the outcomes of our standards and processes. In keeping with this practice, we have contacted SAI Global, the company that certified the Cermaq Canada farms mentioned in the release, to undertake an investigation of the claims in the SeaChoice press release and to independently verify any incidents that may contravene the salmon standard.
In discussion with ASC, Cermaq Canada have voluntarily agreed not to sell any salmon from the sites that are currently experiencing lice counts over regulatory and historical levels as ASC product.
The ASC also intends to initiate a review of sea lice limits that are currently implemented globally to establish current best practices used in salmon producing regions for target and limit levels of sea lice abundance and prescribed actions farms should take for treatments or other remedies. Terms of reference for this review will be made available for public consultation once necessary governance due diligence has been undertaken.
Contrary to SeaChoice’s allegations, ASC is a fully compliant member of ISEAL and our variance request process is consistent with both ISEAL’s Standard Setting and Assurance Codes. Section 6.4 of the former, related to ‘local applicability’, is relevant to this discussion. Additionally, section 5.1.5 of the latter Code allows standard setters to allow exceptions for application of their standards, including for situations where a requirement is not applicable in a certain case.
To assist with the work set out above the ASC requests that any evidence substantiating the claims made in Sea Choices press release related to independent observations of sea lice loads on wild juvenile salmon be made available for inclusion in this review. Finally we would like to point out that the multipliers used in SeaChoice’s release do not refer to trigger limits established within relevant Canadian regulation (3 per fish) and as agreed within the disputed variance request.
Cermaq Canada PR (11.05.2018)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: A statement from Cermaq Canada regarding the sea lice issue in Clayoquot Sound
Cermaq takes this matter very seriously and is actively addressing it as quickly as possible through a number of strong actions, both immediate and longer-term in nature.
We are using multiple tools in the immediate-term, including depopulating affected farms while treating others with an environmentally-safe hydrogen peroxide bath now that we have received a license for that approach. More than a year ago we started a process of adding more tools to our toolkit, including a $12 million sea lice control barge that is being custom built and will be in place early next year.
We are 100% committed to investing in robust sea lice control measures, and are continuing to enhance them through investment in new equipment and ongoing research.
After discussion with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Cermaq Canada has decided to voluntarily not sell any salmon from the affected sites under the ASC brand until we resolve this situation. We pride ourselves on our certification track record, and are committed to the transparent nature in which we conduct our business.
Cermaq has had a very strong track record of sea lice compliance across all of our farms going back more than a decade-and-a-half. This year has been challenging, and we are committed to getting back in line with our historical performance as quickly as possible.
— David Kiemele, Managing Director for Cermaq Canada
SeaChoice PR (11.05.2018):
Lousy B.C. farmed salmon enter market with ASC stamp of approval
May 11, 2018 VANCOUVER — The Aquaculture Stewardship Council is eco-certifying salmon from B.C. farms with alarmingly high lice loads. Fish from farms with sea lice counts as high as 149 times the level ASC allows are being sold with the scheme’s “farmed responsibly” logo.
SeaChoice is calling on the ASC to immediately suspend Cermaq Canada’s Dixon Bay, Millar Channel and Ross Pass farms from using the eco-label and to eliminate the variance that allows B.C. farms to avoid ASC’s original sea lice requirements.
Seven of Cermaq Canada’s Clayoquot Sound farms report elevated lice loads up to 10 times Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s management threshold. Five are ASC-certified and one is in assessment. Three of the ASC-certified farms are actively harvesting with sea lice counts ranging from 24 to 31 lice per fish. Meanwhile, scientists have reported wild juvenile salmon in the area are infected with up to 20 lice per fish. Such high lice infections can be fatal to young migrating salmon.
“Fish from these ASC-certified farms are being marketed as environmentally responsible. In reality, they’re endangering wild salmon,” said Living Oceans Society executive director Karen Wristen.
B.C. salmon farms are allowed variances from the ASC’s established lice limits. The written requirement is that lice levels should be controlled at 0.1 female lice per fish while wild juvenile salmon are migrating. In practice, no upper limit on total lice abundance, or on lice per fish, is applied.
“Cleary, the high lice loads at Cermaq’s ASC-certified farms demonstrate that the intent of the sea lice indicator — which is to protect migrating juvenile salmonids from farm-generated increases in lice — is being undermined by variances,” said David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy adviser John Werring.
“ASC-approved variances allow B.C. salmon farms, which would otherwise not meet the ASC salmon standard, to be certified,” said Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from the Living Oceans Society. The society has submitted two formal complaints disputing the variances. “There is an urgent need for the ASC to rectify these sea lice variances. Unfortunately, the ASC has not acted,” Roebuck said.
A 2017 SeaChoice report found the process ASC uses to consider varying the criteria for certification is secretive and lacking in stakeholder engagement. The nature of some variances overrides the multistakeholder agreements on which the standard’s social licence is based. The report raised questions about whether the approval process is fully compliant with best practices as defined by the ISEAL Alliance (an international body that seeks to maintain credibility among certification standards).