lobster

The 2009 massive die off of several thousand pounds of lobsters near New Brunswick, Canada has resulted in formal charges filed against three executives with Cooke Aquaculture, including its CEO, Glenn Cooke.

At least 33 counts of section 36.3 of the Fisheries Act, which prohibits the release of “deleterious substances” into Canada’s waterways, were filed by the government agency, Environment Canada, alleging that illegal chemicals, including the toxic pesticide cypermethrin were among the chemicals used by Cooke Aquaculture’s Kelly Cove Salmon division and inappropriately managed.

A maximum penalty of 99 years in prison and $33 million in fines could be enforced on Cooke and his executives Randy Griffin and Michael Szemerda for the release of cypermethrin—which is highly toxic and often lethal to crustaceans—in the waters surrounding Deer Island and Grand Manan Island between November 2009 and November 2010.

Cooke’s salmon farm is suspected of being one of many that are having issues with sea lice outbreaks—an epidemic infestation that has grown resistant to the common legal pesticide, Slice, often requiring double or triple strength applications, or, as in Cooke’s case, resorting to the use of illegal chemicals. A number of Canadian salmon farmers are now petitioning the government to allow the use of cypermethrin due to the threat posed by unmanageable sea lice contamination.

The company website for Cooke Aquaculture states that the company has an environmental policy and are committed to “minimizing impacts on the environment” particularly as a result of its salmon farming business.

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Image: Gregory Moine