A report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) – conducted in 2017 but reported just days ago – found that a Cooke Aquaculture salmon processing plant had leaked blood water pollution into sea in Shetland, Scotland.
The blood water release is eerily similar to CBC Canada news report in late November that a fish processing plant in British Columbia was regularly discharging blood-enfused effluent into waters near wild salmon migration routes. The report said that tests of collected blood samples by the the Atlantic Veterinary College showed the effluent contains a dangerous fish virus known as Piscine Reovirus (PRV).
SEPA’s report — released after a freedom of information request by the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture (GAAIA) — noted there had been complaints of odors from the plant, and added “operation of blood water treatment plant not operating properly — improvement required”.
It noted one “gross” and two “significant” breaches, and “action points” to Cooke in August 2017 included: “it was also evident that small amounts of effluent from the blood water storage tanks was discharging directly to Mid Yell Voe, without treatment, via what were assumed overflow pipes. You were aware of this problem and are to put in place remedial actions to prevent the overflow discharging untreated effluent directly to Mid Yell Voe”.
Risk of deadly epidemic
According to guidance from the Scottish government, untreated effluent from processing plants has also been identified as being a particular risk in causing infectious salmon anemia. (ISA)
Cooke’s industrial “feed lot” salmon practices have resulted in major ISA contagions in Chile, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These deadly epidemics resulted in the enforced slaughter of millions of market-ready salmon, for which Cooke received tens of millions of dollars of compensation from the Canadian government.
Cooke under scrutiny in Canada and USA
Cooke’s farming practices have also been in the news recently for disastrous open net pen collapses in Nova Scotia and Washington State (USA), resulting in hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon escapes, resulting in legislative efforts in Washington for a complete ban on open net pen industrial farms in that state.
In Nova Scotia, residents and fishermen have called for the resignation of the Aquaculture minister for what they describe as complicity with Cooke Aquaculture in carelessness regarding protection of the marine environment.
GAAIA claims the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation should be considering expelling Cooke from its organization; it did so in 2014 when Grieg Seafood (Hjaltland) was revealed to have been importing smolt from Norway, contravening industry codes of good practice.
The BBC said Cooke Aquaculture denied ever discharging untreated waste water from its Mid-Yell packing facility.
- Press Release: “Cooke’s Untreated Blood Water is ‘Gross’ says SEPA”
- BBC Radio Shetland on Cooke’s “untreated blood water” in Scotland
- BBC News: “Shetland salmon packing factory leaks ‘blood water’ into sea”