SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick (AP) – Sales of farmed salmon from New Brunswick have dropped by at least 50 percent since a report last month stated the fish contain such contaminants as PCBs, industry spokesmen reported Tuesday.

“It kicked the feet right out from underneath everything,” said producer John Malloch of Harbour DeLoutre Products of Campobello Island.

“The people we sell to are starting to come back, but I don’t know how long it will take the industry to get back to where it was.”

The veteran fish farmer said he ships virtually all of his salmon to Boston, primarily selling to the restaurant industry.

The impact, he added, was almost immediate after the journal Science reported the presence of several persistent organic pollutants in farm-raised salmon.

“We had to call off some harvests. It dropped off about 50 per cent for a while and it’s back about a quarter of that” this week, Malloch said.

After calling some industry representatives Tuesday, Robert Taylor of the Aquaculture Association of New Brunswick said one company had reported a decline in sales of about 40 per cent, some were over 50 per cent, while another reported the study had no bearing on their markets.

David Rideout, executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance in Ottawa, said the risks associated with PCBs have been overstated.

“Nobody likes the fact that there’s PCBs in our food system,” he said. “But it’s throughout our food system. The one thing that I would hope is that consumers don’t turn away from fish.”

According to the January report, toxic chemicals tested for and found in salmon samples were PCBs, dioxins and several chlorinated pesticides, some of which are banned in Canada.

Besides cancer, PCBs are associated with such chronic health problems as nervous system and immune system disorders, low sperm counts, hormone disruption, learning disabilities, aggressive behaviour, reproductive problems, endometriosis and Parkinson’s disease.

AP-ES-02-17-04 2121EST

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