Marine Harvest was today (4 June) challenged to come clean on the extent of their disease problem in British Columbia, Canada.
"Surely Marine Harvest should disclose to shareholders, investors and the general public what diseases and viruses are affecting farmed salmon on sale for human consumption?" asked the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture in a letter to Marine Harvest's CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog. "What % of Marine Harvest farmed salmon sold for human consumption is disease-ridden? What disease problems are Marine Harvest attempting to shield from the public eye?"
Read the letter in full online here
Marine Harvest, the world's largest salmon farming company, is hosting their Annual General Meeting today (4 June) in Bergen, Norway.
It is clear that there are escalating problems in British Columbia. “The BC coast is rife with rumours right now that one of the companies is having an enormous, exploding problem with disease,” wrote Alexandra Morton only last week (30 May).
What problems are Marine Harvest hiding?
Marine Harvest's lawyers in Canada have been desperately trying to prevent the release of damning disease data. In 2008, Marine Harvest Canada claimed in a submission to the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner that release of disease information “would cause significant commercial harm”, “undue financial loss” and that “Marine Harvest Canada’s reputation could be tarnished and sales volume reduced”
The letter stated further that disclosure of disease data would be so damaging that people would stop buying farmed salmon and that Marine Harvest’s share prices would be affected:
Similar statements were made by the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) in submissions to the Cohen Inquiry in May 2011. The industry lobby group conceded that should disease data be disclosed publicly there would be a “likelihood of misuse and irrevocable damage to the economic interests and reputations of participants and individuals” (which included Marine Harvest). In another submission the BCSFA admitted that: “Irreparable damage will occur to the reputations and economic interests of the BCSFA’s member companies and their shareholders.”
Read more via ‘Farmed Salmon Confidential: The Cover Up’
It's not as if Marine Harvest has not been warned. In 2009, Alexandra Morton attended Marine Harvest's AGM in Oslo along with Chief Bob Chamberlin.
Alexandra Morton told Marine Harvest shareholders and the Board of Directors: “You need to just leave British Columbia or move into closed containment.”
Sadly, Marine Harvest’s chairman (Sven Aaser) replied: "I have to disappoint you - we are not going to leave Canada."
The stench coming from Marine Harvest’s operations in British Columbia is so nauseating that it is not surprising that many people want the company to leave Canada. The Marine Harvest board of directors has been painfully aware of disease problems in Canada for years with a number of protests outside Marine Harvest Canada’s offices – including the return of escaped farmed salmon and the return of salmon farm waste.
Watch video report online here
In 2008, a film – “Dear Marine Harvest” – raised the issue of disease risks in Canada and implored Marine Harvest’s owner and the board of directors to stop killing wild salmon.
Marine Harvest’s owner John Fredriksen was asked, following comments he made in Norway, to relocate salmon farms away from wild salmon due to the threat posed by infectious diseases (including sea lice). Since Mr. Fredriksen is reportedly worth $11.3 billion surely it is not too much to ask that Marine Harvest is honest and transparent in terms of disease reporting? The lesson from the ISA crisis in Chile surely suggests that it pays in the long term to disclose disease data? Indeed, investors, shareholders, the Oslo Stock Exchange and the general public demand it.
The crystal clear message to Marine Harvest is this: cut the crap and come clean on infectious diseases!