Salmon farm workers at Cooke Aquaculture USA in Maine have retained over a million juvenile Atlantic salmon smolt from being attacked by seals after company divers identified two damaged cage nets. Despite the rapid response, this attack unfortunately resulted in the loss of 4.5% or 50,000 small 200-400 gram fish stocked in cages at two sites at Cross Island, in Cutler, Machias Bay.
Divers inspected the nets to determine the seals point of entry. In accordance with farm management plans, the nets were confirmed to be properly tied, and that a second layer of predator netting was in place at both sites surrounding the primary netting.
The company is assessing how the seals gained access to the cages. There has been an increase in the seal population, and it’s believed this unusually aggressive seal behavior is a result of that change in Machias Bay. Divers noted that there were no fish around the cages, which suggests they were eaten by seals in the vicinity following the breach.
Cooke Aquaculture USA is assessing the entire site for other factors, ensuring all predator nets are tied, and increasing the number of dives at each site. The company is exploring enhanced netting options and safety measures on all remaining cages. In accordance with State of Maine regulations, the company has reported the breach and corrective actions.
Vice President Public Relations
Cooke Aquaculture Inc. / for Cooke Aquaculture USA
40 Wellington Row, Saint John, NB, Canada E2L 3H3
+1-506-694-4939 office / +1-506-721-1093 mobile