Liza Mayer

Liza Mayer

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The biennial Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition (NACE) in Boston, Massachusetts concluded on a high note on Friday with higher attendance numbers than the previous edition despite the partial government shutdown.
The Government of Canada and the Province of New Brunswick are allocating $460,000 from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund to improve the effectiveness, quality and sustainability of the seafood sector.
Public perception of aquaculture ‘paralyzes’ permitting and investments in marine aquaculture in the United States, according to forum aimed at expanding ocean farming in the country.
Eating seafood instead of popping Omega-3 supplements is a no-brainer because seafood – whether fish or farmed – is the greener choice, says Paul Greenberg, the New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish, American Catch, and The Omega Principle.
Nordic Aquafarms said it will seek certification from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council as a sustainable seafood producer once its 40-acre land-based Atlantic salmon farm becomes operational.
A supplier of autonomous technology for aquaculture, commercial fishing, maritime transportation and offshore energy has attracted the attention of investors, including Toyota.
The big story in catfish aquaculture two years ago was that US farm-raised catfish production was able to meet demand for the first time since 2013. A year prior to that, in 2016, the industry saw annual sales of catfish farmed in the United States reach $386 million, a 7.2-percent growth over the average annual sales during the last five years.
Fish farmers in Atlantic Canada say the Canadian Government’s decision to shut down fish farms in BC’s Broughton Archipelago is a "simplistic" answer to the question why wild salmon populations are fluctuating.

The Province of BC and the three First Nations who own the traditional territories in which the farms operate announced on Friday that 17 Atlantic salmon farms in BC’s Broughton Archipelago – a wild salmon migration route – will be shut down between 2019 and 2023.

They believe the establishment of a “farm-free migration corridor in the Broughton” will help reduce harm to wild salmon.

“We reject the assumption that removing salmon farms from coastal BC waters will save wild Pacific salmon. It’s a simplistic notion that is not based in scientific evidence and does a disservice to the identification of the complex issues facing wild salmon on the west coast. The fact is, no one really knows exactly why wild Pacific salmon populations are fluctuating,” Susan Farquharson, Executive Director of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, said in a statement.

She added that the Cohen Commission has listed more than 20 activities affecting pacific salmon, including climate change (marine and fresh water), loss of habitat, predators, non-point sources of contaminants, forestry, and cumulative effects.

“Atlantic Canadian salmon farmers are leading the way in wild Atlantic salmon conservation activities, such as partnering in the Fundy Salmon Recovery Program with First Nations and all levels of government,” Farquharson said.

At the launch of the International Year of the Salmon in Vancouver in October, DFO Emeritus Scientist Dr Dick Beamish says filling in the knowledge gaps in the factors affecting wild salmon abundance is the aim of a $1.1-million research expedition in the Gulf of Alaska in 2019.

The expedition could result in new research that will make the discoveries scientists need to actively forecast salmon abundance, he said. “We still don’t know the mechanisms that allow us to accurately forecast salmon,” Beamish acknowledged.
Who’s in charge of Canadian aquaculture? In British Columbia, where Atlantic salmon farming brings in over $1.5 billion annually to the province’s economy, the Canadian government is the primary regulator. Provincial governments are otherwise the primary regulators in other provinces, with involvement of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in a number of aspects.  

Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s new federal minister responsible for regulating the aquaculture industry, acknowledged on Wednesday the complicated regulatory framework governing the industry.

“Aquaculture in Canada is a bit complex in terms of jurisdiction across the country,” he said at the conclusion of the two-day 2018 Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) meeting, which brought together ministers with statutory responsibilities over fisheries and aquaculture in federal, provincial and territorial levels.

The push for a federal Aquaculture Act by Canada’s seafood farmers aims to simplify the framework. The ministers expressed support for and commitment to the proposal. The Aquaculture Act, they said, “gives expression of the legitimacy of aquaculture as legitimate user of the marine environment.”

“We have directed our officials to develop federal legislation that will respect federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions and provide greater parity for industry. That federal legislation will ensure Canada’s aquaculture sector is a global leader in producing quality aquaculture product in an environmentally sustainable manner.

“In taking advantage of these opportunities, we are working together to solve the challenges ahead that will make Canada respected throughout the whole world when it comes to sustainable products from the ocean,” Wilkinson, CCFAM chairman, told the press.

Part of the Aquaculture Act would be a commitment of and a recognition by all parties “that we need to have greater commonality of standards across the country; that we need to be working towards ensuring that we are enhancing transparency in terms of how things are done; and providing greater certainty to the industry that investments in different parts of the country will be done on similar terms,” he said.

Wilkinson said however that this in no way means that the federal government will usurp the regulatory authority of provinces where the provincial government is the regulator. “There’s no intention on the part of the federal government to invade jurisdiction. There are mechanisms through which we can ensure that provincial jurisdiction where the provinces are the primary regulators will continue to apply. But greater consistency in a country like Canada is good for industry and is good for ensuring environmental sustainability. And it also allows us to convene a conversation that allows us to discuss things like best practices to ensure were doing everything that we can that to grow the industry in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) welcomed the support of the ministers to advance the legislative development process for an Aquaculture Act in Canada.

“The timely development and passage of a federal Aquaculture Act is the most important and overriding need for the sustainable and competitive growth of aquaculture in Canada,” explained Timothy Kennedy, CAIA President & CEO. “There is such incredible opportunity for this young and innovative sector in Canada. This important support from Ministers is very much appreciated and will provide a fresh look at seafood farming in Canada. Canada remains the world’s only major farmed seafood producing country without modern national legislation specifically designed to govern a responsible and sustainable aquaculture industry.”

While the ministers recognized seafood farmers are already doing global best practices, there appears to be an intent to make regulations stricter under an Aquaculture Act. Kennedy welcomed them, saying: “We are already amongst the most sustainable producers in the world, and are happy to compete to be even better.”

CAIA and its member companies stand ready to collaborate with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous and non-government partners to draft and modernize federal legislation, regulations and programs keeping Canada’s seafood farming business competitive, sustainable, innovative and growing, the organization said.
Pranger Companies, an Indiana-based RAS consultant, has acquired an aquaculture design firm based out of British Columbia called PR Aqua.
AquaBounty Technologies says it expects to start commercial production of its AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon in early 2019.

A $1.52-million loan (C$2 million) it secured from the Province of Prince Edward Island, Canada will help it complete the construction of a 250-metric-ton production facility on its Rollo Bay site, where the GM salmon will be raised. The site includes an R&D hatchery and a broodstock facility.

“This loan should enable us to complete construction of the growout facility at Rollo Bay by the end of this year and to commence commercial production of our innovative AquAdvantage Salmon in early 2019,” said Ronald Stotish,  AquaBounty CEO. “This facility will demonstrate the superior economics that AquAdvantage brings to land-based recirculating aquaculture systems.  We are very grateful for the support we have received and continue to receive from the Province of Prince Edward Island.”

Roughly 20-30 technical jobs will be created once the facility is in operation, the company said.
A nutrition researcher says human diet needs more shellfish because it has some of the most important essential nutrients humans need.

Professor Baukje de Roos, deputy director of the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, discussed the major health benefits of seafood and highlighted the contribution of shellfish to a healthy diet at the conference of the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers in Oban, Scotland.

Mussels, oysters, and king scallop roe contain Omega-3 levels between 1.1 and 2.4 grams per 100 grams of flesh, similar to oily fish such as mackerel, herring, and salmon, de Roos was reported as saying by Seafoodsource. Omega-3 fatty acids help to protect against stroke and lower the risk of mortality from coronary heart disease.

“Micronutrients such as selenium, iodine, and zinc are also found in abundance in shellfish and all have important functions,” de Roos said. “Oysters in particular are high in zinc and would be a good addition to the diet of anyone aware that they have a deficiency.”

Two trace elements commonly found in shellfish--cadmium and lead--were also found in increased levels in humans following increased consumption of mussels, but these were well below hazardous levels, even with three portions per week, said the report.
Taking the company from good to great by attracting a world-class workforce, and keeping them, is at the core of a new role at Cermaq Canada.

“Cermaq Canada has a desire to build a world class organization; we are good at what we do. We want to be great. That is done with world-class people in aquaculture,” says Shannan Brown, who was appointed to the new role of People and Culture director in October.

“As the company has advanced in many areas and is now guided by a global strategy, the human resources function has advanced as well,” says Brown, who was HR manager at Cermaq Canada for 4.5 years. “The HR manager title was changed to reflect this future-focused strategy work. This strategic view is about all aspects of our employees, future candidates, too. Plus to consider the environment that our employees work in so that we have a commonly held group of values and beliefs - that is the culture part (of the title).”

Brown adds that commitment to sustainable aquaculture and to First Nations is crucial for Cermaq. “In my role that commitment would include a strategy for the recruitment and retention of First Nations,” she says.
An award that champions businesses for their contribution in helping “shape Canada’s economic landscape” has named Cooke Aquaculture Inc of Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick as a finalist.

The 6th Private Business Growth Award by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Grant Thornton LLP recognizes 10 of Canada’s best private businesses that have “completed outstanding achievements in strategic, sustainable and holistic growth.”

Selected by an eight-person jury, the Top 10 Finalists were chosen based on a range of categories including innovation, market development, people and culture, strategic leadership and improvement in financial measures.

“Each of the Top 10 Finalists possesses a like-minded commitment to hard work, passion, and tenacity which wholly contributes to the strength and sustainability of the Canadian economy,” said Kevin Ladner, CEO and Executive Partner, Grant Thornton. “These nominated businesses demonstrate a true devotion to the success of their local communities, which is worthy of recognition. I wish the best of luck to the Top 10 Finalists at the upcoming ceremony (on November 28).”
 
Cooke is the only aquaculture entity and the only seafood company among the Top 10. “Celebrating our business accomplishments is important – but we are a great company because of our great people. Their hard work and dedication have made our family’s group of companies a success,” said Glenn Cooke, CEO, Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
China ranks first in farmed fish output thus its efforts toward aquaculture sustainability can be seen as good news for consumers around the world.

China has produced more farmed fish than the rest of the world combined since 1991. But “in recent years China aquaculture aimed for production increase to satisfy the market demand, and didn’t pay much attention on aquaculture regulating and governance, water-resources saving and environment protection,” acknowledged Dr Xinhua Yuan, a senior aquaculture officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The country’s strategies to improve efficiency and sustainability in the sector could mean a large reduction in growth for its aquaculture industry but also enhanced seafood quality for consumers.

The policy changes, laid out in its Five-Year Plan (2016 - 2020), “will enhance consumer confidence on aquaculture products from China, as more and more fish will be produced in ecological and environment friendly models,” Dr Yuan tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).

“Green” farmed fish will be offered at higher prices because of the higher costs of producing them, but “consumers are willing to pay the increased prices, because the awareness on ecological and environmental issues is improving worldwide,” he says.

While these efforts could significantly curtail the growth of China’s aquaculture industry, Dr Yuan believes these will not challenge the general fish supply in domestic and international markets. “China has huge fish production, and the adoption of new policy on greener aquaculture and new technology are carried out step by step,” he says.

In the latest push to perfect the technology to make eel farming commercially viable, Japanese scientists are looking at "marine snow" as potential diet for the slippery creature.

The so-called marine snow is the decaying sea detritus – comprised of dead plankton and other decaying organisms – found at the bottom of oceans.

If baby eels, or elvers, could survive on this diet harvested from the sea, that would be the next breakthrough in the efforts toward commercial production of fully farmed eels, says Prof Takashi Sakamoto of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

Japan is on a quest to make eel farming – from egg to maturity – commercially viable. The nation is the world’s largest consumer of the slippery fish but shortage of eel from the wild has caused a spike in prices.

Original report can be found here.

The future of oyster growers in Southwest Washington is in question after they were barred from using an insecticide deemed the only practical way of addressing a pest.

Dr Kim Patten, Washington State University Extension horticulturist, made the comment to Capital Press after the Washington Department of Ecology denied the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association the permit to spray 500 acres with the insecticide imidacloprid. Ecology says the pesticide is “too risky for Washington’s environment.”

“I don’t see anything else on the horizon that will work at the level growers consider useful,” Patten told the publication. “One of the real threats is the loss of family farms.”

Patten echoes the sentiments of Willapa Bay shellfish farmer Brian Sheldon. Sheldon earlier told Aquaculture North America that there’s nothing else that works against burrowing shrimp as well as imidacloprid. The pest destroys not the oysters themselves but their habitat.

“We’ve spent many years to find an alternative, everything from mechanical methods where you basically destroy the ground to get to the shrimp and we tried different culturing methods like off-bottom — that will buy you some time but eventually the shrimp density get so large that the structure to support that culture technique fails,” he said.
Shrimp farming practices have improved over the past 18 years such that imported shrimp no longer deserve their bad reputation, a study says.

Professor Dave Little and Dr Richard Newton, of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture found that shrimp have become much safer to eat as exporting countries meet the safety demands of importers more effectively.  

The team, which included researchers from the Shanghai Ocean University, lamented that imported shrimp is still seen as being of low quality by some consumers and this is sometimes reflected in the mainstream press, and on the internet.

"Imported farmed shrimp are no less safe than any other seafood product,” said Dr Newton. “Consumers would need to eat more than 300g of shrimp per day to exceed the acceptable daily intake for antimicrobials.”

The study team reached their conclusion after examining 18 years of data in EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. They found that the number of “alerts” about imported shrimp declined significantly despite the rise in volume in shrimp imports.

Almost 80 per cent of the world’s farmed shrimp comes from the waters of China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The ability to adapt and innovate is crucial in ensuring the future of the marine ingredients industry, said IFFO’s President Eduardo Goycoolea at the opening of IFFO’s 58th Annual Conference in Rome on Monday.

Goycoolea speaks amidst renewed pressure for the industry to embrace more sustainable practices, and the push for aquaculture to reduce its reliance on marine-derived fish feed ingredients.

“As an industry you have adapted your products to ensure the success of the aquaculture industry, but as resources continue to become scarcer, more innovation will be needed. There are huge opportunities in producing further new marine ingredients from our oceans, your future is in your hands, be true to your name,” he told participants.

Dr George Chamberlain, President, Global Aquaculture Alliance, said marine ingredients are “the gold standard”  but agreed with Goycoolea  that “supply needs to increase through by-products and the development of new innovative sources.”

The IFFO conference wraps up Wednesday.
Cargill’s efforts to develop a new type of canola oil for use in fish feed has come to fruition with the launch of Latitude, a fish oil alternative that provides long chain Omega-3 fatty acids for aquafeed.

The feed producer launched the product today, but it will be commercially available only in 2020 in Canada and Chile. “Latitude is 100-percent traceable since it manages the supply chain from the canola seed to crop cultivation and oil production—and industry-first for a product of this kind,” Cargill said in a statement.

Canola is a vegetable oil derived from rapeseed, which is rich in the marine fatty acid DHA. 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.

“The growth in aquaculture production brings an increase in demand for Omega-3s,” said Willie Loh, vice president of market development for Cargill’s global edible oils business in North America. “With Latitude, Cargill is combining our aquaculture expertise and canola innovation capabilities to help meet that demand using plant-based Omega-3s in aquafeed, instead of relying on fish oil from over farmed oceans. Latitude will help relieve some of the pressure on wild caught fish, while delivering a reliable Omega-3 product to aquafeed manufacturers – a win-win for the industry.”
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