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Business and Economy

Authorities Investigating Mass Salmon Die-Off At Down East Aquaculture Operation

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Nick Sambides Jr.
/
Bangor Daily News
The pens of Cooke Aquaculture are seen in Machias Bay.

An investigation is underway into what caused a mass die-off of salmon at a Cooke Aquaculture operation Down East.

In a statement, Cooke Aquaculture spokesperson Joel Richardson writes that "uncommonly low oxygen levels in the cages" are being blamed for the fish die-off, and that the company is "completing the safe removal of mortalities that have occurred" at salmon farm sites off Black Island, near Frenchboro.

New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture was cited in 2019 by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection after multiple violations were found at net pen sites in Hancock and Washington counties. The company agreed to pay more than $150,000 as part of the case resolution.

The violations included overcrowding of fish pens. The company was also cited for failing to conduct environmental sampling or submit reports on schedule.

Maine Department of Environmental Protection deputy commissioner David Madore told Maine Public on Friday that his department has opened an enforcement case and is currently investigating the incident.

A Maine Department of Marine Resources spokesperson confirms that the DMR is also aware of the situation, but offered no further information.