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Salmon Wars the Book: Poisoning the Waters

It would seem there are two key obstacles interfering with the net-pen salmon industry’s agenda in North America; wild salmon and the lobster fishery. Without laws and regulations protecting these two wild species would there be anything stopping the industry from taking over every available inch of our coastal waters? Despite regulations, the industry has repeatedly shown they have little regard for protecting anything but their profits.

Cypermethrin is amongst the most toxic insecticides known. In 1998, Canada banned cypermethrin for use in marine environments because of the danger to aquatic life, especially lobster and shrimp. The pesticide was commonly used globally by the net-pen industry to combat sea lice infestations, including across the border from the Bay of Fundy in Maine where it was not banned. Salmon farmers had turned to this powerful pesticide after sea lice developed resistance to SLICE , administered as an additive in the feed.

Today we share a chapter of Salmon Wars that documents the willful, illegal use of cypermethrin by Cooke Aquaculture and the legal investigation and criminal charges that followed. Details from this chapter are a reconstruction of the gov’t investigation and based on official documents, interviews (including Cooke employees) as well as a publicly available “AGREED STATEMENT OF FACTS” submitted to the court by both the prosecution and defence at the close of the criminal case.

The evidence gathered was overwhelming and the facts are beyond alarming. In April 2013 after striking a plea deal, Cooke's Kelly Cove Salmon plead guilty to using cypermethrin at 15 of their farms in the Bay of Fundy. The banned pesticide had been purchased in Maine and smuggled into Canada by a Cooke employee who concealed it in gasoline cans aboard a Cooke vessel. As the Judge stated clearly, - "this was not the result of an accident or negligence, the company had 'failed miserably' to meet the legal standards and had 'willfully ignored' the ban."

Despite the documented evidence and an Agreed Statement of Facts, Glenn Cooke took no responsibility, he did not acknowledge any mistakes, nor apologized for jeopardizing lobsters and other marine life or all the lobster harvests that had been killed. Instead, Glenn Cooke contradicted the facts in the Agreed Statement and publicly claimed they pleaded guilty only as a means to relieve our people and company of the matter and move on. But not without also making a veiled threat that jobs and the economy would suffer unless access to a full suite of pest treatments were available to them.

During and following the investigation and guilty plea, the Federal Gov’t did not ban Cooke from operating in Canada’s waters. Quite the opposite. Cooke in fact continued operations and using cypermethrin for months after the investigation was underway. Records show the Fed gov’t paid Cooke $13M in compensation for the slaughter of a million salmon infected with ISA in early 2012, in Shelburne NS. The Nova Scotia government certainly held no grudge against Cooke Aquaculture either. In June 2012, while the Shelburne farm was still under quarantine, Cooke received $25M in grants and loans from Darrell Dexter's provincial gov’t, including for a proposed processing plant that was never built. The same month the $25M package was approved a second ISA outbreak was occurring at Cooke's Coffin Island fish farm in Liverpool.

As you will see outlined in the book, during the same period Environment Canada was investigating Cooke Aquaculture for 11+ criminal charges and them pleading guilty to the court, our Federal and Provincial governments awarded Cooke 10's of millions of dollars in handouts. Surely Cooke must have been laughing all the way to the bank when they *agreed to pay* that $500,000 fine.

In 2015 when NS revised the framework of its Aquaculture regulations and introduced an Aquaculture Review Board (ARB) to approve finfish farm leases, the assessment criteria mandates the ARB must dismiss any evidence or testimony relating to an applicants history.

Once again we'd like to thank Doug and Catherine for allowing us to share this preview with you and hope that everyone enjoys this small segment and feels intrigued to learn more and read the full book.


"In 1998, Canada banned cypermethrin for use in marine environments because of the danger to aquatic life, especially lobster and shrimp."

"The investigators felt they had gathered sufficient evidence of wide-spread use of cypermethrin at Cooke Aquaculture salmon farms" which a Cooke employee had smuggled into Canada from Maine concealed in gasoline cans aboard Cooke vessels.
"In November 2011, Environment Canada filed eleven criminal charges for violations of the federal Fisheries Act against Cooke Aquaculture; its chief executive, Glenn Cooke; and two other executives".
"In April 2013, Kelly Cove Salmon pleaded guilty to two new counts of using cypermethrin at fifteen of its salmon farms and agreed to pay a $500,000 fine "
"this was not the result of an accident or negligence, the company had 'failed miserably' to meet the legal standards and had 'willfully ignored' the ban."

"the CEO [Glenn Cooke] did not acknowledge any mistake and offered no apology for ignoring the ban on cypermethrin and jeopardizing lobsters and other marine life in the bay where he grew up."



"Frantz spent 37 years as a newspaper editor and reporter, sharing a Pulitzer Prize at The New York Times and serving as managing editor of the Los Angeles Times. After leaving journalism, he was chief investigator for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration, and Deputy Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Collins was a reporter and prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and contributed to The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Upon leaving her newspaper career, she became a private investigator specializing in international financial fraud and corruption.

They began work on Salmon Wars in January 2020 after hearing about the environmental dangers of salmon farming at a public meeting near their home in Nova Scotia."


This new book was released on July 12th to many impressive reviews. PLB will be hosting a presentation and book signing event with the authors at The Astor Theatre in Liverpool this September 25th, so stay tuned for more details. We've also shared the dates and locations for this event taking place around Nova Scotia between now and mid October, on our Facebook page.

Below is a link for where to buy the book and search for local shops in NS that carry it, including in LaHave, Lunenburg, Annapolis Royal, and Halifax. Also avail online at Chapters and Amazon. (Note: Amazon has a free kindle reader app usable on any tablet if you prefer to buy a digital copy but don't have a kindle device.)

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