Marine Harvest rebranding itself as Mowi on Jan. 1, 2019.

Mowi updates Strathcona Regional District on certification efforts

Company is moving toward full certification in its operations

This January, aquaculture company Marine Harvest rebranded itself under the new name, Mowi.

The operation has its head office in Campbell River and processing plants in Klemtu, Port Hardy and Surrey.

In late January, Jeremy Dunn, the company’s director of community relations and public affairs, delivered a presentation at the Strathcona Regional District to update the board about the changes and its plans for certification. He admitted people have asked him how to say the new name.

“It doesn’t matter who you pronounce it, globally this is going to be the symbol people associate with high-quality fresh salmon,” he said.

RELATED STORY: Marine Harvest to rebrand as Mowi – but relatives of the company’s namesake are unhappy about the move

Mowi annually produces 45,000 tonnes, or about half of the B.C. total harvest, and employs 600 people. The company, Dunn said, is committed to 100 per cent certification, and he outlined efforts through Aquaculture Stewardship Council process. The ASC is an independent, international non-profit organization that sets standards for farmed seafood products.

“This is the gold standard in certification in aquaculture around the world,” he said.

In his presentation to the SRD, he pointed 22 of the company’s sites are certified, which includes extensive monitoring of wild salmon for problems such as sea lice. More than 500 clauses must be fulfilled for certification.

“We’re vastly reducing any risk to wild juvenile salmon,” he said. “We don’t use antibiotics very often, and when we do, it’s on very small fish.”

Dunn discussed their growth of the business in recent years, which include more sales within Canada the last few years, in part due to the processing plant in Surrey producing fillets for the domestic market. Meanwhile, the company’s colleagues in Norway started shipping more fish into the Asian market.

In all, he said the company’s supply chain is worth $20 million a month through 174 different suppliers, while it provides $3.4 million a month in payroll and benefits for employees.

“Most of that is collected here by our employees in this regional district,” he said.

Dunn also discussed agreements Mowi has with 13 First Nations. He also referred to the Broughton Archipelago agreement concerning salmon farm transitioning through 2023, except for farms with an agreement in place with First Nations.

“We want a farm where First Nations want to farm,” he said.

The company is currently decommissioning three tenures in the Broughton Archipelago and will continue to run nine others with First Nations oversight. A full Indigenous monitoring and inspection is to be finalized by March 2019.

RELATED STORY: B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Charlie Cornfield, one of the Campbell River directors, said he was pleased to see sales stay in Canada. Dunn’s presentation showed two-thirds of sales are in U.S., 38 per cent is domestic and another four per cent is in Asia.

Area D Brenda Leigh asked about herring, a food source for many species, getting caught in pens at farm sites. Dunn responded that the company has been working to lower its rate of by-catch of fish such as herring.

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