Trout farms face grim future

The Alberta government has offered financial help to trout farms affected by whirling disease.

However, two trout farm operators say the cash, which is considered “recognition of inconvenience”, won’t come near covering their losses from having their businesses under quarantine.

Jack Fraser, of Fraser Trout Farm near Lacombe, said he told a government representative who visited him with the offer that it was a “slap in the face.”

Fraser said he hasn’t accepted the offer but questions whether he has any other choice than get embroiled in an unwelcome legal battle.

“It just amazes me they would lowball you that badly,” he said. “It definitely leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

Besides his investment in equipment, buildings and operational costs, the ongoing quarantine shut off his income stream for this year and next because he was unable to hatch eggs this spring.

While his fish under quarantined he is still paying to feed them and run the power at his trout farm.

He has been told he might be able to get a licence again, but would have to make expensive upgrades. Even then, there is no guarantee he would be approved he said.

Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman Brent Wittmeier said the province is committed to protecting the province’s fish and a three-point action plan involving detection, education and mitigation of risks is in place.

Commercial fish hatcheries were placed under quarantine in September when whirling disease was detected in some fish. The three hatcheries still under quarantine were unable to eradicate the disease from their facilities, said Wittmeier.

Whirling disease is so named because a parasite affects the fish’s nervous system and it starts swimming in a whirling manner. It is not harmful to humans but in young fish the mortality rate can be as high as 90 per cent.

The province is committed to working with the owners to find ways for them to continue operations, he said.

“All three were offered financial support to help alleviate the pressures of the quarantine, even though the province is under no legal obligation to do so.”

Bob Allen, of Allen’s Trout Farm near Calgary, is also not happy with the offer, which he estimates is one-10th of what he put into his operation.

Allen, who lives in Lacombe, said he refused the deal and is looking at his legal options.

The trout farm is the second business he looks to lose this year. He recently sold his Alberta Downs horse racing track because Horse Racing Alberta would not give him any races this year.

The third trout farm affected is also near Calgary.

Just Posted

Influenza claims two more in Central Alberta

Since flu season began four months ago 16 have died in Central Alberta

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Supporters of Tina Fontaine’s family march in Winnipeg to support her family

WINNIPEG — Hundreds marched through the streets of Winnipeg on Friday in… Continue reading

Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled and jailed

EDMONTON — An Alberta judge has been cleared of misconduct in the… Continue reading

Ottawa vows legislation allowing firms to settle corporate corruption

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is vowing to introduce legislation for corporate… Continue reading

‘Lost Tapes’ series examines Malcolm X through rare footage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Malcolm X was reviled and adored during his lifetime… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Germany ousts Canada 4-3

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — Germany has knocked Canada out of the… Continue reading

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month