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A fire at a fish farm near Port Hardy at Queen Charlotte Strait has resulted in the escape of more than 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon.

Fish farm company Mowi, formerly known as Marine Harvest, said in a statement divers are investigating the damage resulting from a fire at its salmon farm at Robertson Island.

Mowi said it has notified federal regulators and area First Nations about the fire and the subsequent escape of the estimated 21,000 Atlantic salmon from the damaged net pen.

Mowi said the damaged net pen will be towed to land and an investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the fire, which is believed to have occurred on Friday night.

Area environmental and Indigenous groups said in a statement Atlantic salmon are not native to Pacific waters and the escape presents ecological and environmental risks to wild salmon stocks.

The federal Liberal government pledged during the fall election campaign to transition British Columbia’s open net pen salmon farms to closed containment systems by 2025.

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