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British Columbia a Hotbed for Innovation in Aquaculture

By August 20, 2019 August 21st, 2019 No Comments
An example of a salmon hydrolicer.

British Columbia is a hotbed of innovation in aquaculture, providing new technologies to protect the environment and make seafood farming more sustainable. But more needs to be done to let world know about the technologies being developed and adapted locally by the aquaculture industry.

“We are not hearing enough of the aquaculture innovations that started here and have been refined here,” said Sean Wilton, CEO of Agrimarine Holdings Inc., who raises steelhead salmon in the mountain-fed waters of B.C.’s Lois Lake. Speaking at plenary discussion at the recent B.C. Seafood Expo in the Comox Valley, Wilton called for a better climate for aquaculture investment in B.C. and Canada. He said more fact-based debate about fish farming is needed as it will raise opportunities for greater innovations and advances in technology.

Jeremy Dunn, director of public affairs for Mowi Canada West, another of the speakers at the session, which looked at innovations and advances in farmed, harvest and wild fisheries said: “there is really nothing more important than the environment when it comes to fish farming.” “If you don’t protect and maintain the quality of the environment, you won’t succeed in aquaculture,” he said.

Steve Atkinson, president of Taste of B.C. Aquafarms, which raises steelhead salmon at its Little Cedar Falls fish farm in Nanaimo also spoke at the session. “If you don’t look after the environment from the waters to the bottom of the ocean, the environment will bite you back,” said Steve Atkinson. Atkinson said there is a common perception that the technology currently exists to take the salmon farms out of the ocean and move them on land. “It simply is not so,” said Atkinson, adding that Atlantic salmon has not been successfully raised at commercial scales on land at a profit anywhere, other than at hatchery stage. Atkinson, who operates one of the very first closed containment salmon farms in production in North America, credited the cooperation between ocean-based and land-based fish farmers for making B.C. a global leader when it comes to fish farming. He said land-based salmon farming has a future in B.C. as a complement to ocean farming, not a replacement.

We are not hearing enough of the aquaculture innovations that started here and have been refined here.

Sean WiltonCEO, Agrimarine Holdings Inc.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) told RaisingOpportunity.ca that there is an ongoing study on the alternative technologies for aquaculture, including land and sea-based closed containment technology. This will enable us to determine gaps that limit commercial readiness and help to inform future technology development efforts, a DFO spokesperson said. The study is being conducted in partnership with Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Province of British Columbia. “The Government of Canada has in place the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program, a $20 million program over four years that encourages Canadian fisheries and aquaculture industries to reduce the potential environmental impacts of their activities through using clean technologies, he said. Here are some of the new technologies and innovations in aquaculture being developed and adapted in British Columbia:

Brown’s Bay Packing Company
Brown’s Bay Packing Company is a federally licensed and provincially permitted fish processing company which has been safely and efficiently processing farm raised salmon in the coastal community of Campbell River since 1989. It has received $424,219 under the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program to adopt and install effluent treatment equipment that will significantly reduce bacteria and suspended solids, kill viruses and remove blood color from fish processing plant waste water.

Cargill Aqua-Nutrition Canada / EWOS Feeds
Cargill’s sustainable, plant-based alternative to omega-3 fish oil has just been approved for US cultivation. Currently, aqua feed for farm-raised salmon contains fish oil to help fish reach desired EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acid levels. By combining technology with its canola innovation capabilities and aquaculture expertise, Cargill is able to provide farmers access to Latitude™, a plant-based alternative that relieves harvesting pressure on wild fish populations, while meeting the market need for a reliable supply of long-chain omega-3s at a predictable price.

Cermaq Canada Ltd.
Cermaq’s experimental closed containment pen system will likely have a home in B.C. waters soon. Cermaq has reported good results from the early stages of its Horsvågen trial of the new technology, which it has named Certus (Latin for “safe”). Under water, it has a flexible composite wall surrounding a traditional net. “The health and growth of the fish, partnered with the limited interaction with wild populations make this an exciting possibility for us here in Canada. The development of new technology is continually improving the way we operate and these latest results are really exciting,” said Cermaq Canada’s Managing Director David Kiemele.

Grieg Seafood
Since 2007, Grieg Seafood has successfully implemented a strategy for recycling fresh water on its smolt sites in order to use less fresh water, save energy for heating water and keep smolt in tanks longer before exposing them to the sea. The process has demanded heavy investments, but has also provided great results. The upgraded smolt sites only need 0,1% – 1% of the fresh water compared to a traditional flow through system. The obvious advantage is that smolt production is significantly less dependent on a large fresh water supply. The major economic factor is the minimal temperature loss in recycled water. Another important reason for investing heavily in water recycling is the possibility to keep the fish on land after smoltification (post-smolt), thus reducing the time salmon spend in the sea significantly.

Mowi Canada West
The largest and most technologically advanced ship to ever serve the Canadian aquaculture industry is now in B.C. waters to revolutionize the treatment of sea lice in farmed salmon. Mowi Canada West’s Aqua Tromoy, costing about $35 million, will be used to provide environmentally friendly fish health treatments, and for moving fish from site to site. The Aqua Tromoy is a state-of-the art aquaculture vessel. Called a wellboat, it has two large holds that can be filled with water, which are used to move fish from site to site, and to provide environmentally friendly treatments of fish. This vessel is on the cutting edge of aquaculture technology and is a crucially important tool in Mowi’s integrated pest management strategy allowing treatment with both freshwater bath and hydrogen peroxide, two sea lice treatment methods encouraged by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

Skretting North America
Skretting is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of aquaculture feeds. Its latest research has led to the development of Protec, a functional feed for fish that helps shield skin, gut, and gills. It supports the immune system, provides the building blocks for new cells and optimizes the balance between fish, microbes, and their environment. An equivalent feed, called Lorica, has been developed for shrimp

Badinotti Net Services on Vancouver Island provides robust engineering solutions for ocean pens used around the world. It has developed Oceanis 1 (submersible cage) operation, mooring engineering, mooring service and the Combinet, which are nets that mix textile fibers with steel or copper. The submersible cage advantage is that it allows fish farmers to develop activities in an exposed and unprotected sites, also it protects the farming from hurricanes and other weather conditions, and at the same time reduces visual impact. Combinet is part of Badinotti´s new line products, that combine textile fibers with metals to improve resistance and the abrasion level.

Poseidon Oceans Systems Ltd.
Campbell River-based Poseidon is a full-service aquaculture engineering and support company specializing in infrastructure design, engineering, development, supply, and installation. Poseidon’s new Trident Hybrid was specifically designed to withstand the harshest conditions in the open ocean. The Trident Cage System is designed with all the aquaculture farm processes in mind. It allows for the full integration of aquaculture systems, including feed systems, advanced rigging options for smolt, grow-out and predator nets, life support systems, cameras and lighting, mort recovery, and almost any other ancillary aquaculture systems.