At approximately 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 2, farmers working at Cermaq’s Millar Channel farm site discovered a healthy humpback whale in an empty sea cage.
The crew notified management of the whale and immediately began to work on solutions to free the whale. The cage was empty and did not contain any salmon and the whale was in good health, not entangled and not exhibiting signs of stress. The decision was made to remove two panels of the predator net and allow the whale to swim free of the cage on his or her own volition.
During the predator net panel removal, precautions were taken to secure the predator net to ensure the whale would not become entangled, and shortly after the divers cleared the area, the whale swam out of the cage and moved away from the farm. At no point did the whale become entangled in any infrastructure, and it swam freely away from the farm.
“We do know that the whale was in the cage system for less than 18 hours as the crew perform regular, proactive pen inspection several times throughout the day, including one late in the afternoon on December 1, 2018. There will be an investigation into how the whale entered into the cage system as the predator nets on sites are regularly inspected by divers to ensure there are no breaches or holes,” says Cermaq Canada Managing Director David Kiemele. “We are however very thankful for the quick actions and thinking of our crew and everyone who responded to the calls so quickly. Their fast action and thinking resulted in a positive outcome with no harm to the whale.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were notified and will be kept informed of the situation as well as the investigation.
“We have notified the Ahousaht leadership and Ahousaht Fisheries and we have committed to keeping them informed of the investigation and outcome, and the steps we will be taking to ensure this does not happen again,” says Sustainable Development Director Linda Sams.
For more information, please contact Amy Jonsson, Cermaq communications specialist at 250-202-7680, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.