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Sobeys has removed all whole farmed Atlantic salmon from their shelves in 84 stores in the region due to reported sea lice infestations on some fish sold earlier this week.

Public relations manager Cynthia Thompson told SCT that a memo was issued late Wednesday to all stores in the region and that a “thorough investigation” is being conducted as to the source of the infested fish.

“This is a quality concern,” Thompson said. “Sobeys is interested in selling only the highest quality products in our stores.”

The lice were discovered earlier this week in salmon from stores in Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick by marine biologist Dr. Alexandra Morton, who is in the area to present the Ransom Meyers Lecture at Dalhousie Universtity on Friday. She found up to 30 lice on fish purchased in Truro and PEI and over 90 lice on the salmon purchased in St. John.

Morton, who has become a central figure in the discussion in British Columbia about the effect by industrial fish farms on wild salmon populations, and colleague Anissa Reed have been touring Atlantic Canada meeting with fishermen and community groups regarding concerns raised in this area about the proposed increase in fish farms throughout coastal Nova Scotia.

Morton told some community groups that it appears to her that there was a risk of Nova Scotia’s coastline becoming a “dump site” for the aquaculture industry.

“I can’t imagine what chemicals they will be using to disinfect the fish now before more are shipped to Sobeys,” said Morton.

The duo reported seeing the well boat Ronja Carrier at a Cooke Aquaculture farm in New Brunswick Thursday, where local fishermen told her that live salmon were being pumped into the boat to be “washed” with a hydrogen peroxide solution. The remaining solution is discharged into the sea following treatment.

There have been several reported large lobster kills in the Fundy Bay region over the past ten years, the most recent being an alleged illegal discharge of the toxic pesticide cypermethrin. Three senior Cooke officials are currently standing trial on federal charges in that matter.

New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture raises and sells the largest share of farmed salmon in the region, but Thompson could not say which producer supplied the chain with sea lice infested fish.