A new study focused on Sydney rock oysters has found that the oysters are getting smaller due to coastal acidification.A Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) study carried out by Scottish and Australian scientists at two commercial oyster farms in Wallis Lake and Post Stephens, both in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, confirmed that the oysters’ diminishing size and falling population is due to acidification from land and sea sources. While the Sydney rock oyster research project focused on Australian aquaculture, lead author Dr Susan Fitzer warns that seafood lovers around the globe could begin to find smaller and smaller oysters on their plates because of the increasing acidity of seawater.“The first thing consumers may notice is smaller oysters, mussels and other molluscs on their plates, but if ocean acidification and coastal acidification are exacerbated by future climate change and sea level rise, this could have a huge impact on commercial aquaculture around the world,” said Fitrzer, a NERC Independent Research Fellow at the University of Stirling in Scotland.Increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion, land-use change and other human activities result in increased CO2 being absorbed by the ocean.  That combination of CO2 with seawater makes the water more acidic, said another study, The US West Coast Shellfish Industry’s Perception of and Response to Ocean Acidification.
The USDA is funding a study that seeks to find out what causes Vibrio levels to rise in farmed oysters, a bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses in people who eat raw or undercooked shellfish. Dr Bill Walton of Auburn University will focus his study on oysters raised using off-bottom farming technique. The technique involves raising the baskets of oysters from the water once a week to air-dry them to prevent barnacles and other invasive species from attaching themselves to the oysters. Walton will find out whether an oyster farm’s geographic location, handling practices, and choice of equipment affect Vibrio levels in these oysters. “Through his project, Walton should generate valuable data for Gulf Coast oyster farmers, who focus on producing exceptional oysters for high-end markets, such as upscale restaurants that offer the farmed bivalve mollusks on the half shell,” Auburn University said in a press release. The USDA has given more than $450,000 for the three-year research project.
Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland have launched a study to look into the effects of a camelina-oil-based diet on farmed Atlantic salmon.The farmed salmon will be fed a new feed solution that contains oil extracted from camelina crop that was genetically modified make health-beneficial Omega-3 fish oils. Current industry practice involves feeding farmed fish with feed containing marine fish oil, sourced from the sea, and vegetable oil. Supply from the wild fisheries is, however, unsustainable.The new study will determine if Omega-3 fish oils coming from the GM camelina plant will be a worthwhile substitute. The researchers will compare the performance of the fish fed the new feed solution in terms of weight and growth of the fish, with farmed salmon fed a standard diet.  They will also compare their tissue and molecular samples.Plant scientist Professor Johnathan Napier, who developed the GM plants at Rothamsted Research, and fish nutritionist Professor Douglas Tocher, of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, will jointly lead the study. Dr Monica Betancor, a Research Fellow at Stirling, will also play a crucial role by checking on the health of the fish and collecting data.The potential for using Camelina sativa as a substitute for fish oils and fishmeal in aquaculture feeds has been explored in recent years. In April 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved mechanically extracted camelina oil for use as a feed ingredient for farmed salmon and trout.
A startup is developing fish feed ingredients derived from black soldier fly (BSF) that will not only provide fish with sustenance but also boost their health and overall wellbeing. Entomics Biosystems Ltd of Cambridgeshire, England says merely drying insects (in this case BSF) and milling them into powder misses many of their potential nutritional, health and wellbeing benefits. A proprietary bioprocessing technique that Entomics developed, which it calls "metamorphosis," boosts the nutritional and functional benefits of such insect-derived feeds. "There are several benefits to this process," explains Miha Pipan, Chief Scientific Officer and company co-founder, in an article published in the University of Cambridge website. Benefits range "from affecting the gut's microbiome and trying to preserve a healthier bacterial community there, to training immune systems to make livestock more resistant to disease challenges and at the same time reduce the need for veterinary medicines, antibiotics and vaccines.” “We are currently focusing our efforts on developing functional insect meals for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in particular in our meals' ability to stimulate salmonid immune system strengthening and overall wellbeing,” said the Entomics team, whose members are University of Cambridge graduates. They are currently working with partners including the University of Stirling to validate and test their products in the field. Entomics CEO and co-founder Matt McLaren noted how the world is looking for more sustainable sources of feed. “I think increasingly there's a recognition that it's not just about basic nutrition, but it's about overall health," he says. "We're trying to take a promising, sustainable ingredient of the future – these insect-derived feeds – and trying to add a bit of biotechnology or science focus to it, to really enhance what the effect is in the end application and reduce reliance on traditional antibiotics and veterinary medicines." There are several efforts currently looking into developing fish feed out of BSF because fish feed derived from fishmeal is deemed unsustainable.
Financial support for projects that improve fishing and farming systems globally is available from Sea Pact, an innovative alliance of seafood industry leaders.The group said projects that are in line with Sea Pact’s mission and fall within the following 12 broad categories are prime for consideration:Gear or Farm ImprovementsSpecies Research and Data CollectionResearch to Improve Farming Practices Fisheries ManagementRegional Aquaculture ManagementTechnologyFishery Habitat Restoration Wild Stock EnhancementFisheries ConservationFisheries Improvement ProjectsAquaculture Improvement ProjectsCommunication/Education“Preferential consideration” will also be given to projects in the areas of:•    social responsibility •    aquaculture •    fisheries management •    traceability •    special species of interest: squid•    special regional area of interest: Great Lakes freshwater fisheries Initial Letters of Interest from those who want to apply for funding are due by 20 August 2018. Select organizations will be asked to submit full project proposals around mid-September, with Sea Pact aiming to announce its grant recipients in late 2018. Application guidelines can be found here.
Farmed salmon could be contaminated with synthetic flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) if their feed is sourced from regions with little or no environmental regulations, suggests a new study, but is it a reason to avoid farmed salmon altogether? A University of Pittsburgh study led by Dr Carla Ng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, tracked the presence of PBDEs in farmed salmon. Despite having been banned in the United States and much of Europe in 2004 because of environmental and public health concerns, PBDEs continue to be released into the environment from products manufactured before the ban of PBDEs, the study says. “They enter the air and water and can accumulate in prey fish which are then used in the manufacture of feed ingredients,” Ng explains to Aquaculture North America (ANA). If the exact location of the catch used as feed ingredients is unknown and/or the materials have not been tested for the presence of the pollutants, it can be difficult to tell ahead of time which animal-derived feed ingredients contain PBDEs, Ng acknowledges. But the study noted that PBDEs are particularly dense in areas such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam, countries that process a lot of electronic waste and lack rigorous regulation of their recycling industries. Dr Neil Auchterlonie, Technical Director at IFFO, the marine ingredients organization, recognized the presence of these chemicals in “extremely small (amounts) and in generally declining concentrations.” In deciding whether this means we should stop eating farmed salmon, Auchterlonie tells ANA: “One of the facets of the continual development of analytical technology is the identification of some of these compounds in ever-smaller concentrations. Those results are often so small that they are confusing when it comes to the interpretation of risk. That risk is important to bear in mind when taken into account with the noted benefits of consuming seafood.” He adds that it is also important to recognize that these materials are found throughout the environment, not just in seafood. In fact, synthetic flame-retardants are everywhere. “As well as being present in the aquatic environment, PBDEs are present in the atmosphere, and in dust, which can also be sources of exposure,” he says. Still, the risk to human health appears to be minute. A report from the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, which covered an extensive overview of contaminants including PBDEs, concluded that the risk of adverse health effects due to PBDEs is low. Animal nutrition specialists and fish feed manufacturers contacted for comment did not respond by our deadline.
A research project that explores the use of kelp perch and pile perch as means to control sea lice infestations in farmed Atlantic salmon in British Columbia has received additional funding from Sea Pact.
YouTube videos come in handy for professional development or for anyone simply interested about learning more about fish farming.You want this person to listen to you. But you know that if he would, he might only give you very short time and, even then, there are other people lining up to talk to him as well. This could very well be the same case whenever you upload an extension video on sharing sites such as YouTube.So how do you seize the moment?“Make sure that you have a quality opening and get into the meat of the material quickly,” Dr David Cline, an extension aquaculturist at Auburn University in Alabama, told Aquaculture North America (ANA).Cline is behind Aquaculture Education and More channel on YouTube, which he started in 2013. His most popular video is on in-pond raceways, which has been viewed 120,000 times. Educational videos on YouTube have an average of 4,872 views.“A good opening sequence is okay as long as it is visually compelling and high quality,” he continued.  “Use good visuals early.” Interesting photos, an interview, good graphics always help. Thirty seconds is all it takes for viewers to decide if a video suits their needs. And even less if there are other videos available online on the topic. “I have seen topics that in some videos are covered in one minute and the same topic in another takes five minutes or more.  Which would you rather watch?,” he asked.Pace is another important element. “Don’t stay on the same picture or  scene for more than 10 to 15 seconds,” he said.  “Try to think like a director. The next time you watch a TV show start counting each time the shot changes. You will be surprised how few times you get to 10.”On top of the education component, the video must also be entertaining.  Otherwise, viewers would most likely move on to something else.  “A video is sort of an exchange. I give you my time to watch the video and I want something in return,” he said. “If the content is not what I want or is boring I feel like the video has stolen my time from me.” Selecting topics depend on your passion, a topic you are currently working on, or a story that you want to tell. It could also be about a question you have been asked several times before or just simply taking advantage of an opportunity. Examples, he says, are the harvest of a big pond, or a feeding frenzy.  “It something that is interesting but is not necessarily a full-blown idea or story.”
Efforts to combat sea lice infestations through natural means have advanced with the first spawning of farmed ballan wrasse in captivity. Wild ballan wrasse has been used in salmon farms in Scotland for years as a non-chemical way of controlling sea lice infestations, but reliance on wild catch is unsustainable. The milestone in the culture of the so-called “cleaner fish” has been reached at a hatchery in Machrihanish, Scotland, which is a joint venture between Marine Harvest and Scottish Sea Farms. Although the wrasse produced at the hatchery will go to the companies’ salmon farms, the industry will benefit from the research. “The research we have done here is for everybody. We have close links with Norway and other hatcheries in Scotland and the information can be disseminated all around the industry. It is a joint industry project and we welcome the opportunity, if need be, to supply larvae to hatcheries,” says hatchery manager Paul Featherstone. There are plans to expand the existing facility over the next few years, and the expansion could enable the hatchery to produce 1.5 to 2 million wrasse annually, says Featherstone. “This is a total win-win situation,” says John Rea, director of Scottish Sea Farms, in a film about the role of wrasse in salmon aquaculture. “Our fish are better off by having this partner in their nets alongside them. It means we have a much lower environmental footprint than we’d otherwise have; the medicine bill is reduced. It makes salmon more suitable.”
Researcher suggests noise pollution could affect reproductive behavior and stress levels of fish
Massachusetts-based biotech company KnipBio has been awarded a grant to study how changes in diet can alleviate enteritis and other diseases in aquaculture.The company is known for its fishmeal ingredient called KnipBio Meal (KBM), which is derived from microbes instead of wild-caught fish or agricultural crops.Enteritis is a common diet-related disease in farm-raised carnivorous fish that can lead to slower growth and increased mortality. It is estimated this disease costs the aquaculture industry more than $1 billion per year. Preliminary feed trials have consistently found that fish and shrimp fed KnipBio Meal experience improved gut health, lower rates of enteritis, and reduced mortality levels compared to populations raised on standard industry diets. The goal of the grant is to study the mechanism by which KBM acts as a prebiotic to affect gut health of rainbow trout and identify the specific components in KnipBio Meal responsible for this effect. It will be conducted over the course of one year and, if successful, may lead to additional funding to commercialize the findings.The grant was from Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Science Foundation.
Do wild salmon interact with farmed salmon? If so, how often?  These are just some of the questions that a new project hopes to answer to determine why wild salmon populations are declining.The $500,000 study launched by New Brunswick’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is in cooperation with the aquaculture industry. It involves establishing 24 receiver sites on Passamaquoddy Bay and the river system. Sixty young salmon were tagged in the river system and then released. Those tags trip a sensor in the receivers when the fish swim within range. That information will inform scientists whether wild salmon are in fact interacting with farmed salmon in open-net pens and how often.“There are concerns about the potential transfer of disease from wild salmon to aquaculture, but also the potential for transfer of disease from aquaculture to wild salmon,” DFO researcher Marc Trudel told Global News.With this being a pilot project, it’s not known how long it will take to gather the needed information, or how that data may shape future policies, Trudel added.
When Aquaculture North America (ANA) first asked me why my family got involved in farming seafood on land using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and what potential benefits we saw, I had to take a step back because not only are there multiple levels to the answer, the answer has also been evolving over time as we continue learning about RAS.
Seventy-two percent of the 30 fish processing facilities audited in British Columbia are not compliant with permit conditions and the province says there is a need to strengthen requirements for fish processors in order to protect the marine environment. The sector-wide audit was conducted after the online publication in November of a video by diver Tavish Campbell that shows fish blood and waste being pumped out of a salmon processing plant in Brown’s Bay near Campbell River. Results of the audit, released on Wednesday, shows the majority of non-compliances with permit conditions were administrative, such as failing to post signage, but there were a few fish processors that exceeded volumes and the quality of fish processing effluent discharged, than is allowed under their permits. “This audit clearly tells us more work needs to be done to ensure our coastal waterways are safe for all wild fish stocks,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “The industry has been largely operating under an outdated permitting regime, going back several decades. We are taking immediate steps to ensure permits are updated and strengthened at fish processing facilities throughout BC.” The ministry recommends modernizing existing permits to include additional environmental protection provisions, such as more rigorous discharge requirements and increased monitoring, and requiring fish processing facilities to update their update their standard operational procedures to reduce the volume of effluent discharged into the environment.
Salmon and trout producer Cermaq has released its quarterly sustainability results on key indicators related to fish health for the first quarter of 2018. The company said the key takeaway on sustainability performance from the quarter includes survival rates spanning from 92.5 - 97.3 percent on a 12 month rolling basis, with the highest level achieved for trout in Chile. In fish health performance, use of antibiotics in Q1 was reduced by 70 percent in Chile compared to the same quarter last year. In Canada, the use was “further reduced” to 9 grams of antibiotics per tonne of salmon harvested within the quarter. The fish harvested by Cermaq Norway in the quarter did not receive any antibiotics, it added. Average sea lice levels at Cermaq sites worldwide were within regulatory limits, “with the exception of a few sites in Canada where the levels exceeded the regulatory limit and have continued doing so,” said the company. It added that the situation “is being addressed by all available means, including early harvesting and by treatment with hydrogen peroxide.” Cermaq also reported one incident of escapes in Chile, where 6,284 fish, weighing 2.9 kg each on average, escaped its operations due to ripped nets. The company started publishing quarterly sustainability results in early 2016.
The Norwegian Government rejected a giant fish farm concept to be housed in what could have been the world’s largest ship because the idea was not innovative enough.
Viewed by locals as “dirty trash fish,” a non-profit helps tilapia win the hearts and minds of HawaiiansThere has been no stopping the success and progress of Kohala Mountain Fish Company (KMFC) in Kapaau, Hawaii since operation began in late 2014. The operation is situated on, and jointly owned by, the Kohala Institute. The not-for-profit institute promotes connection to traditional Hawaiian lands and their sustainable use, with the goal of creating a better world. Before KMFC got going, tilapia farming in the state was extremely limited, notes KMFC General Manager/Head Biologist John Oliva. “Tilapia in Hawaii did not have a very good reputation,” he explains. “It was viewed as a dirty trash fish… It has taken some work by KMFC and others like Denise Yamaguchi from the Hawaii Food and Wine festival to win hearts and minds here. Our products have received much praise in the marketplace for their presentation, flavor and fat content, allowing us to get a higher market price from the target customer base.” Currently, Kohala supplies whole fresh fish to distributors in Oahu and to restaurants as far away as New York. Eco-friendly In harmony with the values of the Kohala Institute, the operation is designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Tilapia was chosen as best for integrating with all the sustainable aspects of the Kohala operations, in addition to being the most easily acquired and easy-to-rear fish, with a fast growth rate and great market versatility. Water for the fish is sourced from a spring inside nearby Kohala Mountain and after flowing through the fish farm, it’s filtered through water cress tanks and settling ponds before moving into various gardens and macadamia nut orchards. Fish farm sludge is composted with processing waste and Institute green waste to fertilize cattle pastures. KMFC uses a batch harvesting method and a stocking density of 60 kg/m3, with egg-to-harvest timelines of six to nine months. The hatchery has 10 recirculating 600-gal round broodstock holding tanks, three 1,000-gal spawning tanks, 12 McDonald upwelling hatching jars and 24 self-contained 150-gal fry-rearing tanks. The nursery consists of 36 1,000-gal round tanks on three recirculating systems. Grow-out occurs in 47 30,000-gal round tanks, operating as completely flow-through to completely recirculated. No antibiotics or other substances are used to farm the fish, and the feed is all “certified sustainable” from Ewos. Oliva’s relationship with Ewos began over a decade ago when he was the manager of a salmon hatchery in Alaska. There he found Ewos outperformed other feeds and he formed a great relationship with the Ewos feed rep. He says all the Ewos feeds have been useful at KMFC, but especially the #00 micro diet. “[It] has reduced mortalities in our swim-up fry (first feeding) by about 50 percent over the #0 feed and…a doubling in growth rate.” It’s in KMFC’s feed trials in the grow-out phase, however, where Oliva says Ewos’ knowledge in fish nutrition and feed manufacturing has been particularly valuable. KMFC’s fish are red tilapia, and in Oliva’s words, “we wanted something that would make their color pop. We had Ewos add some astaxanthin to the feeds, which has the additional benefit of providing antioxidants to the diet. The fish responded beautifully with color and vigor.” A colour change in the flesh (desired by some customers) is achieved through longer feed duration and higher amounts of astaxanthin. KMFC’s latest trial involves feed higher in protein and fat to produce fish that really smoke well, and initial results look promising, Oliva says. Farm-to-market It was critical from the start for KMFC to be an integrated operation — from egg to processing — because Hawaii has strict importation rules, Oliva adds. This arrangement also circumvents the increasing threat of tilapia lake virus (TiLV) reaching the islands. Having a processing facility is “necessary to be able to sell and market the amount of tilapia we are producing and will be producing,” says Oliva. “We have 1 million lbs of fish ready now and we hope to have at least moved 3 million lbs through the system by years’ end. With the completion of our fish processing facility slated for March, we will be looking to bring our satellite co-op farms on board. We provide the technical and biological expertise, the seed stock and feed to the farmers, so we will be able to control the quality and consistency.”  In addition, KMFC will expand its hatchery and nursery, and add 40 more grow-out tanks. The firm will start shipping its production to mainland wholesale distributors and also start producing whole frozen fish and fillets (including a very small frozen fillet for the USDA farm-to-school program). “We even have interest in our product from buyers in South Korea,” Oliva reports.     Over his nearly 30 years in aquaculture, Oliva has seen consumer attitudes fluctuate, and notes that the times where consumer perception is down were usually a result of unsubstantiated rumors started by a person or group with an agenda. When a fish farmer or the industry in general can address legitimate concerns with scientific truth however, he notes public attitudes become positive. Oliva believes the future is bright for aquaculture as the need for healthy, sustainable protein grows.
Over the past 14 years, the aquaculture industry has seen a roughly 80-percent decline in the amount of pond space dedicated to catfish, from a peak of around 80,000 hectares in 2002 to about 25,000 hectares in 2016.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reached a milestone in May with its first harvest of an all-female generation of mature sablefish. This is a landmark achievement as it makes the farming of this tasty, buttery fish on a commercial scale within the grasp of US fish farmers. The fish harvested weighed an average of 5.47 lbs each, for a total of a whopping 20,227 kgs (roughly 44,593 lbs).
Good news to tilapia aficionados: tilapia has always been good for you.  A study showed tilapia’s Omega-6 to Omega-3 (n6:n3) ratios is relatively low compared to normal US diets. This disproves the “worse than bacon” allegation made in 2008 that was based on a study conducted by a research team that exaggerated its interpretation of how tilapia’s n6:n3 ratios were bad for the health.
The permitting process allowing commercial fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico has been in place for a little over a year now but no one has applied for a permit, acknowledged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently.
Sea lice have long been a research focus at Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) St Andrews Biological Station (SABS). Recently, studies have focused on the ecology of their early life history stages, non-chemical methods to reduce their incidence, and genetic selection of sea-lice-resistant Atlantic salmon. These elements have been, or are being studied, in an attempt to combat sea lice outbreaks in near-shore ocean caged fish.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is beginning the early stages of work towards opening up federal waters in the Pacific Ocean to aquaculture operations but some are concerned that developing regulations before an industry is established may prevent growth.
As wild fish stocks are being harvested to capacity and global demand for seafood continues to grow, some sectors are espousing that land-based salmon farms are the answer. At present, most land-based farms operate for smolt production. So how economically viable is it to raise salmon on land through harvest size? And what are the implications?
The Panacea Oyster Co-op is a collaborative enterprise borne out of a desire to strengthen and revitalize oyster farming in Florida’s Apalachee Bay and other parts of the estuary. By bringing together individual  farmers to work towards a common goal, the co-op has brought its members collective benefits. Its efforts are paying off, for the co-op has been championed by US sustainable seafood investment forum, Fish 2.0.The co-op was formed two years ago by a group of classmates at the Wakulla Environmental Institute’s Oyster Aquaculture program. While working on separate aquaculture operations, an Australian equipment supplier suggested that they consider forming a cooperative. It didn’t take much convincing; the group voted Rob Olin as CEO and, later, as chairman of the board.“We just cobbled a team of very diverse but incredibly talented professionals together for the business side,” says Olin. “I think we’ve attained our goal, which is to provide our members with everything they need — support in terms of accounting, legal, finance, operations, and advertising and marketing.  So all they have to worry about is growing the perfect oyster. We now have a pretty substantial juggernaut.”A for-profit co-opThe co-op provides seed, ongoing training, technology and a guaranteed place to sell their product, at a guaranteed price. They also help them make effective business plans. A key difference with many co-ops, Olin notes, is Panacea’s for-profit nature. “We have to have investors to build the infrastructure we needed. We have to have enough money to buy the marina to house everything. We had to have an actual structure for a USDA loan, so in that way we’re different.”As CEO and chairman, Olin is the decision-maker for a lot of day-to-day issues, however, larger questions regarding operations or philosophical changes are made with the 30 members of the co-op. The rancher members and the board of directors both meet once a month, in additional to an annual shareholders’ meeting.  “We’ve been able to enhance the rancher’s performance by way of the financial allowance and economies of scale that we bring to the table,” says Olin. “This is brand new. And like anything you do that’s brand new, it’s like walking into a hotel room when the lights are off. You stumble around and you find your way and you start to get a rhythm, then you start to elevate your performance, and from that elevation you move on to perfect performance. We’ve been able to cover so much ground as a team that we could never have gotten done as any one individual.”The co-op also benefits from their location, next to Florida’s Spring Creek, the largest freshwater spring in the world. The pure spring water flows through and mixes with the saltwater, making up North America’s most diverse estuary. Olin says this allows for algae to thrive, which feeds the oysters and allows them to grow more quickly. The location also has two tides per day, which keeps nutrients moving in and out.“When you’ve got oysters that rely on filtering more than 50 gallons of water per day, giving them the mega nutrients that our waters do, that allows them to grow faster than anywhere else on the planet.” The farming operations are centered around the Apalachee Bay, which is part of the same estuary as the Apalachicola Bay. Farmers in the Apalachicola Bay harvested as much as 100 million oysters per year five years ago, but this has gone down to less than five million now. Olin hopes Panacea’s efforts to resurrect the oyster industry in Apalachee Bay will inspire farmers in the Apalachicola Bay.“We’re putting the money, capital and effort back into building the infrastructure into Apalachee Bay,” says Olin. “Hopefully folks in Apalachicola Bay will see the magic that happens from this reintroduction of oysters – a totally different way to harvest and they’ll embrace it and start doing it over in their own bay and bring back that incredible potential that they once had.”Panacea Oyster Co-op was one of the winners of the recent Fish 2.0 competition. The co-op’s ability to  organize people and motivate them to commit to a shared endeavour has been a key factor behind its win, says Olin. Part of the appeal for many in the oyster farming industry is the independence and freedom it allows, but the co-op has convinced its members to give up some of that freedom for the greater good.“It’s kind of like the old west,” says Olin. “You’ve got a bunch of independent water cowboys and cowgirls. They can make their own agenda for the day because they can adjust to the tide, wind, temperature and current. They don’t especially like to be collaborators or joiners. But here, because the old ways—commercial fishing and commercial oyster harvesting—were gone forever, they saw hope in this new technology, this new way of doing things. And they committed, even though it went totally against their natural instincts and they’re building something much bigger than themselves.”VisionThe goal of the co-op is to establish their model as a prototype that can be adapted in different areas, either as satellite operations, or the co-op can provide its services as mentors and consultants. The important thing is to help the industry get firmly established. Oysters are the ideal panacea not only to help supply the world’s growing need for food but also to keep the waters healthy, says Olin. “Oysters are essential for the survival of 3,000 aquatic species. They’re the original filters in the aquarium. Take the filters out, the aquarium dies. Put the filters back, the aquarium comes back to life. The best thing we can do is put filters back in the aquarium. The best way to do that is through aquaculture. The best way to make sure coastal communities see it is through this collective collaboration of a co-op.”
New Brunswick’s oyster exports grew 18.6 percent to $5.8 million in 2017 from the previous year, continuing the industry’s rally. Overall industry growth was at 57 percent over the past five years, measured in terms of oyster bags in water, which in 2017 was at 518,000.  
A probiotic supplement that has been proven to boost larval oyster survival by 20 to 35 percent is ready for manufacturing but the path to commercialization may not be that easy.Probiotic OY15, a benign strain of Vibrio bacteria found in the oyster gut, was developed by microbiologist Diane Kapareiko and her team at NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut. Their goal was to help oyster hatchery managers boost the survival of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae and seed, and improve their defenses against bacteria.It is a promising drug, but Tom Hashman, director of business development for Envera, said there are hurdles for getting the Food and Drug Administration to approve any probiotic, and a Vibrio-based bacteria might present additional hurdles. While this particular Vibrio strain is confirmed benign and has shown it can be a “good” bacteria that boosts the oyster’s immune system and is safe for humans to handle, harmful Vibrio strains known to be human pathogens can cause serious illness and be fatal if an immune-compromised person ingests them or is infected through a cut in their skin while swimming in seawater.  Kapareiko says a partner is now being sought to produce the probiotic on a commercial scale.  “If it were to go commercial, in a perfect world, if we had a company that said yes and went forward with commercializing it, it could possibly be another couple of years before it reaches the market,” she said.
New Brunswick’s oyster farming industry has grown 57 percent over the past five years due to the mechanization of farming processes and access to funding, according to Marie-Josée Maillet of the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.
Shellfish farmers in British Columbia faced an interesting problem in 2017: there was more demand than they could supply. “All production was spoken for, no farmer had any problem selling his shellfish. The biggest problem was producing enough to meet the demand,” says Darlene Winterburn, executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA). Behind the industry’s struggle to meet demand is the regulatory process for assigning, modifying or expanding tenures for shellfish farms. The lengthy process limits industry expansion and it is a challenge that the association continues to work towards a resolution. “The government came up with a new harmonized form this year, we’ll see how that works out,” says Winterburn. “We’re hopeful that it will be a positive change. We’re working with the government on addressing problems because we are limited in our ability to expand production. It also raises issues around the level of security that people have when investing in infrastructure to increase their production. But everybody is working together.” 2017 began with a significant challenge as the winter season saw an outbreak of norovirus. The British Columbia Medical Journal eventually attributed that outbreak to sewage-related contamination spread by ocean currents. Winterburn says the association worked with all levels of government to address the issue. A working group including the BCSGA, government and other stakeholders modified the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program to include site response measures, including temporary shellfish closures. The program is run by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “With that, there has been a broader awareness of the importance of clean water to produce healthy animals, which are critical to a healthy people and a healthy planet,” says Winterburn. “Safety of our products is a top priority and, as an industry, we do everything we can to ensure that.” The installation of a “Burke-o-Lator” water-quality monitoring device in Baynes Sound was another positive development for the industry. The device collects real-time ocean acidification data, enabling shellfish farmers to make informed decisions on when to grow larvae, when to set juvenile oysters out into the field, or when to draw the thousands of gallons of seawater they need to fill their tanks, for instance. The project is a joint effort between BCSGA and the Vancouver Island University. Live feed of data is open to the general public. “This is going to provide really strong foundational data that pertains to environmental intelligence in Baynes Sound and it’s going to be key for all sorts of science,” says Winterburn. “It’s going to be quite invaluable as we’re looking at global issues as well as industry-specific issues.” Another challenge that the association is addressing is debris from shellfish farms that strong winds cast out into the ocean. As earlier reported in Aquaculture North America, BCSGA led a “Turn It In Week” over the summer, where the association and partners set up large bins in strategic locations around the province, enabling farmers to easily dispose disused equipment and other refuse from their farms. BCSGA also collaborated with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to organize a beach clean up on Denman Island and other beaches in the area. “We still have some work to do, but the vast majority of our farmers are quite responsible,” says Winterburn. “While they’re out doing their business, whether they’re on the farm or travelling back and forth, debris is an issue. They’ll stop and pick it up, they want to make sure that their beach is in a good state of care. As an association, we encourage our members to be good neighbours.” Other issues that the industry faced in 2017 included feed availability, high cost of equipment and the need for more research on production. The association is addressing these through collaborations with the Hakai Institue and the Vancouver Island University. “People are being really proactive to expand our capacity and to work through some of our issues,” says Winterburn. “We have no problem selling the product we have – there’s a shortage of product. What we need are ways to enhance our production and to do that we need to overcome these challenges. If we’re able to jump those hurdles, the potential is limitless.” (This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Aquaculture North America.)
Connecticut's shellfish industry has grown drastically, with all indications showing that trend will continue. A report from the University of Connecticut, sales between 2007 and 2015 increased by nearly 100 percent, to a value of nearly $30 million in 2015. Connecticut Sea Grant, meanwhile, is conducting a more comprehensive study into the state’s industry, which will be completed by October this year. Every five years, the University of Connecticut conducts an economic assessment of the entire agriculture industry, taking raw harvest data and estimating the multiplier effects on the economy. It also looks at direct sales, jobs and how that revenue plays out in the local and state economy. “There’s been a gradual increase in oyster production,” says Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist and educator with the Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Extension Program. “We had a disease event in the late’90s that wiped out most of our oysters. We saw a slow recovery at first and now a more rapid recovery.” Getchis says increased diversification of operations and techniques have helped strengthen the industry. While a large portion of the industry continues to harvest seed from natural, public oyster beds, some use the remote setting technique of oyster seed production when natural seed supplies are not available consistently. The state has also seen the industry diversify into container culture, where producers utilize flip bags or cages rather than traditional beds. These tend to be smaller operations, but still important to the growth and health of the industry. “A volume of shellfish is still coming out of those natural beds, but the diversification is coming from these smaller operations that are located near shore and are using different types of gear to grow oysters,” says Getchis. “We’ve had a lot of interest in that, and it is poised to scale up.” Connecticut Sea Grant’s study into the industry is tied to the Connecticut Shellfish Initiative, which aims to grow all of the shellfish sectors in the state. Getchis says that they are collecting information about jobs, harvesting areas, types of gear used and other information to create a baseline to inform the growth of the industry. “It’s a plan that was developed by interested parties, a public process and an evolving process,” says Getchis. “Things that were important a year ago when we created the plan may not be as important now or may have already been addressed. There are new challenges that arise and new opportunities. It’s a living document and we’re working on the implementation of the plan.”
Alaska, the United States’ top producer of wild seafood, is just in its infancy when it comes to farming it. Current and prospective farmers are looking at the technology and equipment used in Maine, where farming of shellfish and seaweed have been a commercial success for years.
Why not Alaska?  That’s a question that Alaska shellfish and seaweed growers are starting to ask themselves.  The $6-billion seafood industry in the state produces more seafood than the rest of the US combined.  Indeed, if Alaska were a country it would be in the top 10 for seafood production, yet almost all of that comes from the wild fishery.
The livelihoods of oyster farmers in British Columbia, Canada are at risk from a norovirus outbreak that has sickened hundreds in three provinces and forced the closure of nine shellfish farms as of March.
Dynamic and informative industry seminars and speakers, business development networking events, and facility site tours are just some of the reasons to add this event to your busy schedule.
A company in Newfoundland hopes that access to feed specially formulated for sea urchins will change its luck. Green Seafoods did grow-out trials in 2000 but the biggest problem was securing the right feed to increase the roe (gonads) to a marketable size. Operations manager Mark Sheppard says the sea urchins they were raising ended up tasting like what they had just eaten, for instance, kelp or fish protein. With access to feed developed by Norway-based Urchinomics and Nofima, he hopes this second round of sea urchin grow-out trials will yield better results. The feed is special in that it holds its form in water for between seven to 14 days without dissolving, a quality important for urchins because they take a long time to eat. “We know that it works in the lab. We are going to do some full-blown commercial trials this fall,” he says.
Feeding farmed fish with live feeds that are nutritionally enhanced with nutrient-dense liposomes could become a reality sooner than later. Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have been studying ways to deliver water-soluble nutrients to aquatic organisms. The problem is that water-soluble nutrients can be rapidly lost from artificial feeds when they are added to the water, resulting in nutrient losses and poor water quality.Liposomes are microscopic particles that are constructed very similar to cell membranes. They are small enough to feed to rotifers and Artemia that are used as live feeds in marine finfish hatcheries. Importantly, liposomes very effectively retain water-soluble compounds when suspended in water. OSU researchers are exploring the use of soy-based liposomes for delivering essential nutrients to larval fish and other aquatic organisms.During his PhD studies, Dr Matt Hawkyard collaborated with researchers from Norway to develop larger scale batches of liposomes to match the scale of aquaculture production. Through feeding nutrient-dense liposomes to Artemia and rotifers, Hawkyard hopes that they can make a drastic impact on mortality rates and improve larval quality in the industry.“We can actually boost the level of, say, taurine, that we know is an essential compound, very much like amino acid, and we can boost those concentrations in rotifers to levels that are beneficial to fish,” says Hawkyard. “These [particles] are extremely efficient and deliver a pretty high payload.”Hawkyard says that after feeding liposome-fed rotifers to Northern Rock Sole larvae they found a tremendous impact on growth after a six-week feeding trial, compared to control groups. Since establishing the potential of the liposomes for such work with taurine, researchers have successfully utilized liposomes to deliver vitamin C, iodine, selenium and other nutrients.One of the key benefits of the liposomes is the prevention of nutrient leaching. One could achieve similar growth results through taurine by simply dissolving a great deal of taurine into rotifer water, says Hawkyard, however that would take 60 to 100 times more taurine because much of the nutrient doesn’t make it to the rotifer. Plus, the wasted nutrients provide a “broth” for bacteria.By improving the quality of live feeds, Hawkyard hopes that they are not only able to reduce mortality rates, but also malformation rates.“Even as we decrease mortality rates and increase survival, you see a pretty high rate of malformations in a lot of marine fish juveniles,” says Hawkyard. “Jaw deformities are really common in a number of species, and fin development and scoliosis – a wide variety of these kinds of physical malformations show up in the later phases. But they look like they’re related to things that are happening in the larval stage and, probably, a large number of that, or at least a fraction of those malformations are due to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances.”Going forward, Hawkyard says OSU are working on a few other particle types, including a complex particle where they are trying to integrate liposomes into a larger particle to feed directly to fish.
ADM Animal Nutrition launched at Aquaculture America a new protein source for aquaculture, called PROPLEX T. Composed of dried fermentation biomass, PROPLEX T provides a consistent source of digestible protein and high levels of essential amino acids for fish and shrimp. The company says PROPLEX T has proven to be a successful replacement for other protein sources, such as fishmeal, in diets for fish and shrimp. “PROPLEX T is a cost-effective protein source that can be used in place of expensive or variable protein products,” said Dr John Bowzer, aquaculture research scientist for ADM. “Additionally, PROPLEX T provides feed manufacturers with added flexibility in formulations due to its high protein content and favorable amino acid profile.”
Canola oil could someday become a common ingredient for salmon feed. At the moment, raising fish rich in Omega-3s means supplementing their feed with fish oil. Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima) said preliminary results of their study show Omega-3 oil derived from canola is safe to use as ingredient in salmon feed. Canola is a vegetable oil derived from rapeseed, which is rich in the marine fatty acid DHA. Results of the Nofima study show salmon given feed containing Omega-3 Canola had the same Omega-3 levels as salmon fed with fish oil. Gene expression analyses showed that effects depended on the amount of oil, not the type of oil, the study says. Feed producer Cargill is developing a new type of canola oil for use in fish feed.
FeedKind protein, a new fish-feed ingredient touted to reduce aquaculture’s use of fishmeal, is expected to reach the market in 2019 once commercial production begins at Calysta Inc’s Tennessee facility.
The US aquaculture industry faces numerous hurdles: a negative image, a difficult regulatory environment and, crucially, a shortage of educated, skilled workers.
As aquaculture continues to produce an increasingly larger portion of seafood consumed in the world, it also becomes a larger and more lucrative market. In recent years that market has attracted the attention of a variety of big grain trading companies that have sought to diversify their products. Companies such as Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge Ltd and Terra Via shared with Aquaculture North America (ANA) why they wanted to become a part of the aquaculture market.
Kentucky State University is running a workshop on indoor marine shrimp farming on September 14 and 15 at the university's Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm at 1525 Mills Lane, Frankfort, Kentucky.The interactive workshop will cover a wide range of topics, from the basics of indoor marine shrimp farming to the latest in technological innovations, research, regulations, post-larvae supply to marketing. It will feature a series of presentations and round table discussions with experts in the field and policymakers who help shape the future of shrimp farming in the US and globally.Registration deadline is August 24 at  s.surveyplanet.com/B1Ioo0h7m. Registration fee is $25 per person.For out-of-town participants, a limited number of hotel rooms are reserved at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort at the special rate of US$103 per night for September 13-14. Use code “Shrimp Workshop” when booking. Contact Dr Andrew Ray for additional details or any questions at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
How a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) works will be just one of the things students in North Carolina can learn through a mobile aquaculture lab being built in the state.Project proponents North Carolina Sea Grant (NCSG) and Carteret Community College (CCC) expect the lab to promote aquaculture education, training and employment opportunities in the state.The lab, which was scheduled for completion by the end of June, is part of a larger project called Building the Marine Aquaculture Career Pipeline. As part of the project, NCSG has taken part in several events where they brought touch tanks and animals to schools. But CCC Aquaculture Department Chair David Cerino says this new lab will be on another level.“It’s a flatbed trailer on which we are going to put a touch tank that can transport animals and quickly set it up so those animals can go into smaller trays for interaction. There will be a RAS system that will have fish in it, with all the components of a RAS system so we can explain what each part does and highlight that aspect of aquaculture.”The mobile lab will also display different types of gear and information on different aquaculture techniques as well as monitors for visual presentations. The modular lab can have new elements added, as necessary.“I do a lot of work in high schools in North Carolina to educate students about the opportunities in marine aquaculture,” says Jane Harrison, Coastal Economics Specialist with NCSG. “I can go in and give a power point presentation, but if they can’t see what these creatures really look like and get their hands on them, it’s not as effective.”Another aspect of the project is developing curriculum for teaching about aquaculture. Harrison says that she hopes the mobile lab might inspire some teachers to create permanent aquaculture labs at their schools.
Hatchery International and Virginia Tech will jointly host RAStech 2019, a conference and trade show focused on recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), on May 13 – 14, 2019 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Formerly the International Conference on Recirculating Aquaculture (ICRA), RAStech 2019 will feature keynote presentations and concurrent sessions discussing case studies, developments and advances in RAS and its future in the aquaculture industry. Partnering with Hatchery International, backed by Annex Business Media’s event management expertise, ensures the continued success and growth of this event. “We are happy to partner with Virginia Tech on this great initiative. The advancements in RAS technologies make this event a significant gathering of great minds and leaders in the aquaculture industry,” says Scott Jamieson, group publisher at Annex Business Media, which owns Hatchery International. “Sustainability is the way forward for aquaculture and RAStech will be a venue for sharing ideas and best practices for RAS applications.” “RAStech 2019 will continue the ICRA’s vision of providing aquaculture professionals a resource for learning and sharing knowledge about RAS,” says David Kuhn, associate professor in the aquaculture research and extension programs, department of food science and technology at Virginia Tech. “Hatchery International is an ideal partner for us to accomplish this goal.” For registration information visit www.ras-tec.com.
A technology platform that enables farms and hatcheries to track and manage their aquatic populations “with greater speed, accuracy and insight” is available from XpertSea.The Canadian company says XpertSea’s platform uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to count and size early-stage aquatic organisms such as shrimp larvae and live feed. The XpertCount is a smart IoT (internet of things) device that connects to a portal where customers can access data and analytics from any device, anywhere. As of 2017, XpertSea’s customers in 48 countries have counted more than 17 billion organisms and uploaded over 100,000 counting and sizing sessions to the data portal, said the company. It recently found investors in Obvious Ventures, Aqua-Spark, and Real Ventures, which together raised C$10 million in Series A financing."This investment will help XpertSea take the guesswork out of aquaculture inventory management, which will drive profits for aquaculture producers and deliver positive environmental returns for our planet,” said Valerie Robitaille, CEO and co-founder of XpertSea. “Precision aquaculture technology is the key to bringing transparency to transactions and standardizing practices across the industry, which benefits everyone along the aquaculture food chain,” she added.
How a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) works will be just one of the things students in North Carolina can learn through a mobile aquaculture lab currently being built in the state.Project proponents North Carolina Sea Grant (NCSG) and Carteret Community College (CCC) expect the lab to promote aquaculture education, training and employment opportunities in the state.The lab, which is scheduled for completion by the end of June, is part of a larger project called Building the Marine Aquaculture Career Pipeline. As part of the project, NCSG has taken part in several events where they brought touch tanks and animals to schools. But CCC Aquaculture Department Chair David Cerino says this new lab will be on another level.“It’s a flatbed trailer on which we are going to put a touch tank that can transport animals and quickly set it up so those animals can go into smaller trays for interaction. There will be a RAS system that will have fish in it, with all the components of a RAS system so we can explain what each part does and highlight that aspect of aquaculture.”The mobile lab will also display different types of gear and information on different aquaculture techniques as well as monitors for visual presentations. The modular lab can have new elements added, as necessary.“I do a lot of work in high schools in North Carolina to educate students about the opportunities in marine aquaculture,” says Jane Harrison, Coastal Economics Specialist with NCSG. “I can go in and give a power point presentation, but if they can’t see what these creatures really look like and get their hands on them, it’s not as effective.”Another aspect of the project is developing curriculum for teaching about aquaculture. Harrison says that she hopes the mobile lab might inspire some teachers to create permanent aquaculture labs at their schools.
With the help of over $30,000 in travel grants, 14 students from universities around the world will showcase their research at the 8th International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health (ISAAH), which will be held September 2-6, 2018, in Charlottetown, PEI. ISAAH, held every four years, is co-hosted this year by the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), the PEI BioAlliance, and the American Fisheries Society-Fish Health Section. This will be only the second time that it has been hosted in Canada since the inaugural conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1988. The travel grants are provided by the Fish Health Section of the American Fisheries Society and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology located at AVC. The students will present research on topics including emerging diseases in fish and biosecurity implications; the effects of the ornamental aquarium fish trade; injuries and disease in Pacific salmon; and pathogens and parasites affecting various species like wild and farmed fish, crustaceans, manatees, and amphibians. “This conference is an excellent opportunity for the students to present their research and to network with world leaders in aquatic animal health,” said Dr David Groman, local chair of the conference and Section Head for Aquatic Diagnostic Services at AVC. Early bird registration for the symposium ends on July 13. For more information, visit https://isaah2018.com/
As important as having the specialized skillset, an aquaculture diver should also have the temperament to get the job done, writes Kelly N. Korol.
IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation has appointed Petter Martin Johannessen as director general.
Steve Summerfelt has joined the first commercial-scale Atlantic salmon RAS facility in the US.“My experience at the Freshwater Institute has been incredible. We have overcome many of the biological, technical, and economic challenges that fish farmers must overcome when using RAS. Many challenges remain for commercial producers using RAS and the Freshwater Institute team and facilities are still well prepared to develop solutions to overcome these challenges,” Summerfelt told Aquaculture North America (ANA). “The massive expansion of the land-based salmon-trout farming industry is actually quite intimidating because I’m not convinced that all of the players have the technology and experience to do this right. Yet, with this transition, I will be able to help Superior Fresh – the leader in commercial land-based production of Atlantic salmon in the USA – sustainably expand production of both fish and produce,” he continued. “I look forward to continuing to innovate and optimize RAS and aquaponic production while working for industry. This will also allow me to continue providing the very best technology to Superior Fresh and hopefully leave a legacy of success.”
Aquasend, a subsidiary of Precision Measurement Engineering, introduced at Aquaculture America 2018 its new device for monitoring dissolved oxygen, called clearDOT logger.
With help from a newly launched management software, oyster farmers can now access what’s happening throughout their operation at any time.
Animal feed producer ADM Animal Nutrition has appointed Dr John Bowzer as lead research scientist in aquaculture. Bowzer is “tasked with strengthening ADM’s commitment to developing ingredients and products that deliver value to the rapidly growing aquaculture industry,” the company said in a statement. He will also lead ADM’s efforts to expand its research capabilities through development of an aquaculture wet lab, it added. Bowzer received his doctorate in zoology from Southern Illinois University in 2014. “He brings significant technical expertise in fish and shrimp nutrition and physiology to ADM Animal Nutrition,” said ADM
When two million pounds of farmed fish perished in British Columbia because of a toxic algal bloom in 2015, crew from West Coast Reduction Ltd (WCR) received moved the volume to its the company’s Nanaimo facility. But the work that WCR professionals perform is clearly no ordinary cleanup. It is a delicate job involving microbes and pathogens from dead animals that could seep into the environment if not handled well.“We have all the logistics and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)-certified facility in place that we can take those volumes, render them, sterilize them and make a value-added product, with no fear of getting those pathogens out in the open. It is similar to the services we provide to the livestock processing industries,” Ridley Bestwick, WCR’s chief financial officer, tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).The vital work that rendering facilities such as WCR perform often goes unnoticed, but their services are critical to helping sustain the agriculture/aquaculture industry, the food services sector, and the environment.WCR is Western Canada’s largest independent rendering facility. It recycles about 450,000 tonnes of food byproducts, including beef, pork, poultry and fish, in Western Canada annually. Of this volume, aquaculture byproducts — heads, fins, tails and guts — account for between 5,000 to 10,000 tonnes a year.Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) accounts foras a large part of WCR’s Aquaculture aquaculture volume along with Brown’s Bay Packing Company, which who is its longest standing aquaculture supplier. WCR also services Cermac and others on the BC coast.. MHC produces three to four trailers of fish waste from its Port Hardy processing plant each week and that waste is trucked down to WCR’s Vancouver plant daily or every second day, depending on the volume.The greener optionBestwick tells ANA that rendering is a lower-cost solution for fish farmers and processors dealing with aquaculture byproducts than industrial composting, and also a more environment-friendly option.“Our plant here in the Port of Vancouver takes the equivalent of 150,000 cars off the road each year in green-house gas reduction. In BC, there is no enclosed composting facility where the gases from composting are captured, so those materials, if they went to compost, would create gases. Composting facilities have a negative carbon footprint, we have a positive carbon footprint,” he says.Rendering is also “the best way to clean the product,” adds Doug Davidson, WCR’s operations manager. “Animal byproducts are cooked at high temperature during rendering so microbes and pathogens, or any viral-type issues, are sterilized in the process,” he says.Aquaculture’s shareBestwick and Davidson see aquaculture’s share in WCR’s business growing alongside aquaculture. Today, the company provides collection services to 50-60 percent of aquaculture businesses in British Columbia.The supply of fresh raw product and how quickly it is rendered is crucial in producing quality fish oils and protein meals. “For some of the businesses that are far away and have small volumes of byproducts, composting is the closest and easiest fix because WCR can’t collect those volumes fresh enough to get to rendering,” says Davidson.He explains that fish byproducts produce fishmeal with a protein content of between 64 to 70 percent, and the fresher byproducts are when rendered, the more of that protein is retained. “So if something is left for two days (because of travel time) before it is rendered, it will lose 1 or 2 percent of those proteins.”But Davidson sees the share of those small farms in WCR’s business growing as the aquaculture industry grows. “As their business and volumes grow, our service to them becomes more economical,” he says.Bestwick adds: “We are supporting the biggest players of aquaculture and we hope to support the small players as well. In the near future we hope to provide options to supply the service to the more remote locations.”ByproductsWCR not only serves the industry in terms of helping dispose its byproducts but also in recycling that waste into valuable feed ingredients.The aquaculture industry is the company’s biggest customer for proteins produced from rendering poultry byproducts. “We sell our finished products to the likes of Skretting and EWOS, who blend those proteins into feeds,” says Bestwick.The biggest customer for the fish meals produced out of rendered fish waste is the pet food industry.An evolving industrySince the company’s start in 1964, Bestwick says the rendering industry has become more regulated, customers’ demands have become more specialized, and competition for animal byproducts has increased because of the growing movement toward composting and other green energy initiatives.“In the last 50 years, scrutiny over the process and products in our industry has increased; biosecurity and food safety have become top priorities,” says Bestwick, who noted that CFIA audits and issues industry permits.Davidson says the basics of rendering have also become much more refined over the years; centrifuge technology and polishing are now the norm, along with raw materials segregation to produce higher quality ingredients. “When I started in 1978, everything was boiled in one pot,” he recalls. Clearly, specialization helps answer the customers’ increasing demand for single-ingredient feed ingredients.Over the last 10 years, Bestwick says the company has seen its supply of raw materials decline because they are being diverted into other recycling initiatives — for example, composting and biogas — that he believes is not as sustainable as rendering. The organic landfill ban in Greater Vancouver has also contributed to the decline in the supply of byproducts for rendering, he says.“Organics (food scraps) cannot go into landfill anymore in Greater Vancouver.   We don’t render green vegetable material — it’s better for that to go to composting or biogas or landfill — but the organic landfill ban created an opportunity for waste haulers to also take fish and meat material from our suppliers. I would say we’ve seen a 5- to 10-percent drop in volumes of byproducts that we pick up from butchers and supermarkets,” he adds.Bestwick acknowledges that while disposing waste via composting is well intentioned, he says rendering is the most sustainable solution for recycling meat and fish byproducts. “Compared to composting, rendering reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent and adds five times more value to the local economy,” says Bestwickhe says.He regrets that this fact is lost on most consumers because “the fact is, in past years we did not market what we were doing,” he says. But now, the company is increasing its visibility in the media and the community to promote a better understanding of the company’s work.“We are communicating our role, we meet with government officials, we go to conferences and trade shows, we advertise, sponsor events, communicate with the media, talk to consumers and regulators. We get the message out about the contribution we make to the sustainability of aquaculture and agriculture,” says Bestwick.In 2016, the BC Food Producers Association awarded WCR with its the Sustainability Award, a proof that finally, the company is succeeding in getting the word out, and its contribution to the environment, economy and people of BC is recognized.This feature story was originally published in Aquaculture North America's September/October 2017 print edition.
Ingenious companies around the world are accelerating innovations at an unprecedented pace to make fish farming more sustainable. One of them is AgriMarine TechnoIogies Inc (ATI), a developer of marine aquaculture containment systems. ATI is a subsidiary of AgriMarine Holdings Inc, a portfolio company of Toronto-based Dundee Corporation.The British Columbia company is busier than usual these days, says AgriMarine Director Sean Wilton. “We have lately been working on a lot of closed containment systems because it’s starting to look like there’s a sweet spot in the industry where you get a crossover of functional benefits with cost. The cost of (floating) containment is obviously higher than net pens but lower than in land-based,” he told participants at the Aquaculture Innovation Workshop in November.AgriMarine has been at the forefront of salmonid closed containment aquaculture for nearly two decades and pioneered the development of marine-grade floating closed containment systems for over 10 years.         In 2014, it formed ATI to focus on delivering its market-ready sustainable technology solutions to clients around the world.ATI has less than 10 employees, which is relatively small in the world of technology innovators. But while the competition has started getting bigger — in both the size of their deployed systems and their engineering and R&D budgets — Wilton believes “bigger is not always better.”The greatest challenge for any smaller innovator, he says, is to stay relevant once they have proven the value of their technology to larger players in the industry.“We are meeting this challenge by leveraging both the depth of our practical experience and our flexibility and responsiveness that we enjoy being a smaller private company,” Wilton says. The company’s marine containment systems offer solutions for sea lice, toxic algae blooms, low dissolved oxygen water and high temperatures.“Our floating closed containment technologies, both tanks and raceways, address all of these issues in the same fundamental manner. We use solid or impermeable wall structures in the rearing containment vessels to isolate the husbandry environment from the ambient surface-water conditions, and draw cleaner, cooler water largely free of algae and sea lice from depth to supply the fish with as close to ideal culture conditions as are available,” he told Aquaculture North America (ANA).Real-world resultsIn 2012, AgriMarine acquired West Coast Fishculture (Lois Lake) Ltd, a finfish farm in Powell River, BC, which produces 1,200 MT of steelhead annually. Starting out as a net-pen operation, it added closed containment because high water temperatures in the summer led to high mortality rates. There are currently six tanks deployed, displacing approximately 18,000 cubic meters of water and accounts for three quarters of the farm's standing biomass. Plans are underway to transition fully to closed containment.AgriMarine’s floating, semi-closed containment systems optimize the rearing environment for the steelhead, says Wilton. “Having our own farm and our own engineering group in-house allows us to learn and live what it takes to use floating closed containment in a real-world commercial environment. We have direct feedback from end users to designers and back again, and this is giving us a very rapidly developing practical knowledge base of the technology and its use,” he says.He adds that sea lice are not an issue in the steelhead farm. “There are no sea lice in the lake. Our challenge is that it gets too warm in the summer. Key for us is the ability to isolate culture temperature from the ambient water around us so we bring cooler water up from depth of about 30 meters below our tanks.”This allows water in the tank to be maintained at 13 to 14˚C whereas the surface water temperature is as high as 26.5 ˚C outside the tanks. As the farm transitions to all contained systems, the tanks are operated alongside nets, allowing them to collect comparative data. Traditionally, net pens in freshwater lakes see marked spikes in mortality levels during the summer. In contrast, AgriMarine's tanks and raceways have seen greatly reduced mortality rates that are in line with industry norms at saltwater marine sites.Two tanks were delivered to a Norwegian specialist post-smolt producer over 2016/2017. The client has completed two crop cycles and reports excellent health and accelerated growth with both cohorts reaching target weight seven weeks ahead of schedule.The company's tanks are certified to the Norwegian NS9415:2009 construction standard — a very rigorous set of technical standards and quality control procedures enforced for all marine equipment in Norway.“We believe we were first to achieve NS9415 certification for our floating tank technology two years ago and in some ways are still leading as we have more commercial production cycles through our technology than anyone we know of,” Wilton added."Combined with government incentives for Green Sites and other R&D support measures in other countries, some competitors have taken the lead in deployment footprint and we have to keep innovating to make sure those large well-funded engineering teams don’t catch up or pass us technologically as well,” he says.
Atlantic Sapphire is well into the construction of the Miami version of their Bluehouse – an all-in-one aquaculture production facility that houses every stage, from hatching broodstock to processing of the harvest. As CEO Johan Andreassen watches his vision for an American Bluehouse take shape with each passing day, he keeps his eyes on a larger prize – a giant US market that imports the vast majority of its consumed salmon. “I think the consumption of salmon here can double over the next 10 years, if done properly,” says Andreassen.The company is preparing for an increased demand for salmon. It plans to exponentially expand the Miami Bluehouse in size and scope as it moves through different phases. Phase one is due for completion by the yearend and will see its first harvest – 9,484 metric tons head-on and gutted (MT HOG) salmon – by the second quarter of 2020. Phase two will add 20,000 MT HOG by 2023. Phase three will add another 60,000 MT, for a total production of nearly 90,000 MT HOG, by 2026. The initial 384,000-square-foot facility in phase one will grow to four million square feet by phase three. The 100 direct jobs and economic impact equivalent of 2,700 jobs of phase one is predicted to grow to 21,000 indirect jobs by phase three.While the idea of including every step of the seafood value chain under one roof is unique, it’s not a new idea, says Andreassen. “If you look at everything from broodstock through hatch, through parr, pre-smolt, smolt, post-smolt, what we are doing here is exactly the same as the entire salmon industry. Then we grow out the fish to five kilos, that’s basically what we are innovating and what we are doing differently from anybody else. Once the fish is five kilos, it goes into a slaughterhouse and a processing facility that’s also exactly the same technology and concept that is widely used throughout the industry.”Risk factorsBy housing the supply chain in one facility, the product can reach the market quicker and fresher. But this also means much more planning on the front end for Atlantic Sapphire to avoid potential issues. While recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are much more secure and have a smaller risk of virus issues than other facilities, Andreassen states emphatically “nothing is virus-proof.” The original Bluehouse in Denmark served as a dry run where most of the kinks in this type of facility were ironed out. In 2012, there was a furunculosis bacteria outbreak. And once such a virus gets into a recirculating system, it’s a significant problem to get rid of it because the water keeps recirculating. That’s why it’s so important to have protocols and protections in place to begin with.“You have to have a very, very thorough pre-treatment of the water, and high hygienic standards, and procedures on all the stuff that you’re bringing into the farm.  Most of the people that are producing fish on land, they’re using water from a pipe into the ocean or they’re piping water from rivers or streams and those are not biosecure. You have fish, you have algae and you have living organisms in the intake water. In the case of South Florida, we’re using a deep-laying artesian aquifer that’s 2,000 feet below, where the water is completely biosecure. So that’s a huge edge that we have here.”To deal with the furunculous is issue in Denmark and avoid such issues in Miami, Atlantic Sapphire designed a new water treatment system with a double firewall for pathogens, and improved their bio security routines. Another risk factor, for any farming situation, is hydrogen sulfide intoxication, which the Danish Bluehouse experienced last year. In response to that, the company updated the design of their bio filters, developed a new sensor to measure H₂S and made changes across the system to prevent sedimentation.Due to such intense precautionary measures that are required, some larger salmon farmers do not feel that RAS technology is ready yet to operate in larger scale production. Andreassen feels that such concerns are unwarranted.“Broodstock salmon have been raised land-based for 20 years, right? It’s not a question if it’s feasible to get the salmon to grow to a large size in a land-based environment. Obviously, when you do commercial food fish production, you have higher densities and you need to dimension the technology accordingly, so it can keep a higher volume of game per cubic meter of tank volume.”No matter what the challenges, Andreassen feels it will be worth the benefits that their approach will bring to aquaculture production. Citing how net-pen farming was recently banned in Washington State, for example, he notes that the Bluehouse concept addresses all of the issues associated with net-pen salmon farming, including microplastics. “I think microplastic is going to be one of the largest [problems]. I call it the next CO₂.”More than that, however, is the fact that consumers are becoming more concerned about the origins of their food and seeing how it comes to their plate. Having the entire supply chain under one roof means that question is much more easily answered.“I also think that once we have ‘Product of the United States’ [label] on our products, it will appeal more to a lot of consumer groups here,” says Andreassen. “We have a very open philosophy. We want to create trust amongst the consumers so we have designed our farm in a way we can have tours. People can see exactly how the fish are being raised so we can create that confidence that what we’re doing is good both for the fish, for the environment and for the consumer.”
Whole Oceans is building a land-based Atlantic salmon farm in a former paper mill in the state. Repurposing the paper mill has saved the company a lot of money, according to head of Business Development Ben Willaeur. “Paper-making also involves high intensity water usage and the intake and discharge saltwater so the infrastructure already exists. That reduced our costs tremendously,” Willaeur says.The farm will create 50-60 jobs directly, as well as a number of indirect jobs through construction or byproduct utilization. The facility is the first of many being planned by Whole Oceans in Maine. CEO Rob Piasio hopes the company could eventually capture 10 percent of the domestic salmon market.“We’ll achieve that goal by growing numerous farms in different locations in Maine; that will get us to 50,000 metric tons of capacity, or more,” says Willaeur. “But it’s a long-term goal. That could take 20 years, or more, but it’s ultimately something that may happen much sooner than expected.”While acknowledging that the 50K MT capacity is a very large number relative to what is currently being grown in RAS facilities within and outside the US, Willaeur believes it is something the market can bear. “There is, I think, going to be an awareness that the consumer will bring when they become more familiar with the quality that RAS fish possess in terms of their taste, but also in terms of the fact that they’re taking pressure off an endangered wild species and really have controlled food and water quality.”Market demand is promising. Whole Oceans says it has already pre-sold 100 percent of its projected inventory. Willaeur downplays competition among RAS producers; instead, he speaks highly about the work done by contemporaries such as Nordic Aquafarms and Atlantic Sapphire in this sector. He believes the market has more than enough room for everyone.“The industry is dynamic enough that we find most participants consider themselves as partners rather than competitors. Everybody wants each other to be successful. There’s a lot of knowledge-sharing in terms of the growth of the technology and the innovation that’s occurring.”That collaboration is part of why Willaeur and Piasio, both Maine natives,would like to see the state become a global hub for RAS technology. That hub would be formed both through partnerships with both the industry and academia. The knowledge base of RAS systems incorporates everything from chemistry to biology, electrical and mechanical engineering and international procurement.“There’s just a myriad of diverse centers of knowledge that we would be looking to recruit, and looking to acclimate specifically to our work. We feel that academic institutions in this state are rising to the occasion and are very interested in producing integrated academic offerings, partnering with industry partners within the state.”
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An interview with the director of the University of Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute Since its establishment in 1988, the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Idaho has been home to significant work looking at food production, fisheries enhancement and stock restoration. A driving force behind ARI’s work is its director, Ron Hardy. Though he is proud of the work that has been done over the years at the institute, Hardy says that’s not the most important part of their work. “I had a wise mentor explain to me that we are in the information business,” says Hardy. “He asked what I thought we did as scientists, I said we invent this or we discover that. He said, ‘no, our role isn’t necessarily to solve the problems that industry has today, ours is to work on today’s problems but also looking down the road to the future as best we can and see what the needs might be or what questions might arise.’ We see ourselves as ‘mini-futurists,’ in a way.” When ARI began doing selective breeding, no one else was pursuing such work and no one requested it of them, he says. But they decided that they needed to do it because there would come a time when it would be important. “That time is now,” says Hardy. “Actually, it’s past now, but you get the point. We need to get our information into the hands of people in the industry or other scientists or government people who are working on policy or regulations. These policies and regulations will be part of the fabric of how the industry operates and dictate its success or failure.” ARI’s work is focused on discoveries that advance sustainability. Hardy’s experience is as a fish nutritionist. His entire career, he’s been focused on alternative proteins and fats. He’s also been focused studying protein retention, which is the percentage of protein ingested that’s retained as protein gain in the body over a set period of time. Hardy says he was appalled 20 years ago when he found that the rate was in the 20-25 percent range. Across the industry, that protein retention rate has reached the low 40s, but he still wants to know what happens to that other 60 percent. “We’ve focused on that a lot, in collaboration with the USDA,” says Hardy. “We’ve looked at how to better manufacture feed, how to grind it better, how to make better pellets. We’ve also looked at lowering the environmental impact of aquaculture through increasing phosphorus retention.” Another ARI effort Hardy speaks fondly about is a trout breeding program that utilizes all-plant protein diet. The feeding regime, coupled an aggressive selection program, has improved the performance of trout over eight generations and they now grow twice as fast as when the program started 16 years ago. “We’re looking at why. What’s different in these fish – digestion, intestinal transporters, whatever – compared to non-selected fish and are there genetic markers that we can identify that we can go into another population, or another species even, and say ‘these individual fish have these characteristics that are linked to increased performance. They should be used for future generations.’” Hardy says USDA’s funding support has enabled ARI to conduct such programs. Much of ARI’s funding comes in two- to four-year grants, but more sustained funding is required to conduct genetic improvement effectively. ARI also conducts many shorter-term projects through funding from industry partners around the world. When Canada’s Enterra was looking into developing insect meal (as reported in ANA Sept 2017), ARI conducted the testing and evaluation of the feed. Enterra has since received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to sell its whole dried black soldier fly larvae as a feed ingredient for salmonids. ARI is currently building a new fish lab on their campus, which will have the capacity to work on marine fish. This will allow them to apply the findings of their trout research into species such as salmon, amberjack and yellowtail. The new lab is expected to start operations by the end of year. Hardy is something of an elder statesman in the aquaculture research community. With new frontiers of research opening up, the industry veteran says today is an exciting time for aquaculture. “I wish I were starting my career now instead of ending it.” “It’s a very exciting time with new genomic technologies that let us look deeper into how fish operate, how the world works, how life works, in a way,” says Hardy. “We’re well positioned here at our laboratory, and I think the research community as a whole is well-positioned to make a substantial contribution to aquaculture in the future.”

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