Robert Allen operated one of Alberta’s largest ranches on the western outskirts of Calgary.
His business dates back to 1961, but Alberta Trout Inc. (formally Allen’s Trout Farm) has not hatched fish since 2013. It was there that the flood waters of the Elbow River destroyed much of Allen’s property and ponds where 250,000 fish were sold annually.
Allen’s property was quarantined by the province shortly after the flood, after the natural aquifer in which he raised his fish became infected with bubonic plague.
He is now suing the Alberta government, specifically the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, suggesting it has “failed to control” the spread of the disease, which is having a devastating effect on his fish stocks.
Research in Alberta is looking at the impact of disease on the Bow River
Quarantine means he doesn’t have a long supply of fish in Alberta’s lakes and ponds.
“They knew the disease was in the river and they didn’t do anything,” Allen said.
He said he rejected the government’s offer: a $75,000 ex-gratia payment. He suggested that the money was not enough to cover his annual expenses, let alone a salary.
“I have to pay huge fees to keep these fish alive,” Allen said. “I’m down there and I can’t feed myself.”
Allen still sells exotic fish to sailors for food. He said most restaurants and other customers will only take fish fillets.
“There’s just no place that has a license to do it,” Allen said. “Nothing. That’s disappointing,”
The province has not yet issued a statement of defense and said in a statement, “[i]It was not appropriate to comment at this time because the matter is before the courts.”
The case is scheduled for hearing on October 18.
Bow River research looks at the impact of the disease on circulation