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February 7, 2014, 4:51 pm
Marine Harvest suspended all harvesting of salmon in Ireland in January after severe storms and disease outbreaks saw its Irish operations post large losses in the last quarter of 2013.
Harvesting will be halted as well in mid February, in a bid to let the fish grow, said the company in its fourth quarter report.
Despite being Marine Harvest’s smallest unit along with the Faroes, Ireland cost the world’s largest salmon producer NOK 55.2m (€6.6m) in ‘exceptional mortality’ causes during the year.
That is by far the highest cost of any unit, trumping costs of NOK 33.2m (€3.95m) in Norway, its largest region, and NOK 16.9m – NOK 18.5m in Scotland, Chile and Canada. Norway did book another NOK 154.1m in exceptional costs from sea-lice mitigation.
The challenges saw Marine Harvest make operating losses of NOK 36 million (€4.28m) on its Irish salmon in the quarter, representing negative earnings before interests and taxes (ebit) of NOK 36.76 per kilo — down from losses of NOK 3.55/kg a year before.
Prices were also affected by a lower share of superior salmon sales, while harvest volumes fell by half to 1,345 metric tons, gutted weight, said the group.
The quarter was very challenging for the operations in Ireland, said Marine Harvest. Severe storms affected feeding and the ability to treat for sea lice and amoebic gill disease (AGD). Pancreas disease (PD) severely affected two sites and AGD losses were recorded at one site, while high occurrences of jelly fish were reported across all regions, resulting in elevated mortality.
Marine Harvest Ireland will not harvest fish in January and half of February in an effort to grow the fish, the Company is reported to have said.
Marine Harvest accounts for 80% of Ireland’s farmed salmon, according to the NGO Friends of the Irish Environment.
Marine Harvest harvested only 1,345t in Ireland in the quarter, lower even than the Faroes (1,874t), and compared to more than 68,500t in Norway, 14,1300t in Chile, and more than 11,700t in Scotland. Total harvest in the quarter reached 103,378t.
A company spokesperson told the press that weather conditions this winter had been unprecedented in the company’s 35-year history in Ireland, making it difficult to access offshore sites.
The results are further evidence that along our coastal bays closed containment systems, which are now coming into production around the world, are the only way forward. By separating the farmed fish from the natural environment, disease and parasites can be controlled without adverse effects on other species and the effluent recycled rather than polluting local waters, said a spokesman for Friends of the Irish Environment.