Liza Mayer

Liza Mayer

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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.

The company acquired the Canadian aquaculture design consultant from Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems (Canada), Inc. Formerly PR Aqua Supplies Ltd, PR Aqua LLC produces integrated water treatment and fish handling solutions for a variety of applications, specializing in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

Pranger is an Indiana-based consultant and construction manager specializing in the development of commercial RAS projects in the US.

“We are excited to have PR Aqua join the Pranger Companies,” Gabe Pranger, equity holder in the Pranger Companies, said. “Their knowledge of aquaculture systems and technology will be a tremendous benefit to our clients.”

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.”
Maryland has increased public access to information on proposed shellfish tenures by posting pending commercial shellfish lease applications on the state government website.

The new set of online tools is aimed at helping educate and engage the public on proposed aquaculture lease applications. The tools include a dynamic database and email notification system managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The tools were launched following consultation with aquaculturists, commercial watermen, community and county leaders, homeowners associations and others throughout the Chesapeake Bay. “During our state-wide listening sessions, we heard time and again that community leaders wanted to be alerted about proposed aquaculture projects earlier in the permitting process,” Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer said. “The new early notification system will provide near real-time data on all future aquaculture lease applications as well as information on location, status and type.”

Commercial shellfish aquaculture lease applications received since January 1, 2018, and determined to be complete, will appear on the database. “An application’s designation as ‘complete’ does not mean that it is approved. All proposed leases are subject to change throughout the permitting process,” the Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.
Canada’s new federal minister responsible for regulating the aquaculture industry on Thursday indicated radical change is coming in the way Canada manages Atlantic salmon farming.

In 2010, management of aquaculture became the responsibility of the federal government as per a Supreme Court decision (Morton v. British Columbia) in 2009. The significance of that decision was that it declared that fish (and shellfish) farming was in fact a “fishery” and gave exclusive authority to the Government of Canada for the management of that "fishery." Prior to 2010 provinces were responsible for managing most to all of aspects of the industry, including licensing and regulating the industry around production, animal health, compliance and enforcement.

At the launch of the International Year of the Salmon in Vancouver, BC on Thursday, Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said that is about to change. He said the government is looking at area-based management of the industry, which will include “tenuring decisions” on farm sites in the province of British Columbia.

“This is a new departure with respect to how we are actually addressing aquaculture going forward. It is also an area where expect to work collaboratively with our partners in the province and with First Nations communities because it is obviously a critical issue for many of them,” Wilkinson said.

BC Premier John Horgan said the area-based tenuring that Minister Wilkinson is advocating is a “sea change in how we look at issuing tenures in our oceans.”

“From the provincial perspective we have a modest responsibility for anchoring tenures. About 10 percent of the activity is the responsibility of the province, (but) the remainder of what happens in the water column, the fish, the animals, what they eat, what medicines they require, are a federal responsibility.

“Minister Wilkinson and I are working cooperatively on two orders of government to ensure that when we’re talking to communities, when we’re working face to face, nation to nation with indigenous peoples as well as with industry, that we’re very candid with what we’d like to see with the industry, we’re harmonizing the tenures now between federal and provincial governments. These are very positive steps forward but we’ve got a lot more work to do,” he said.

Wilkinson has not indicated how the new management approach will look like as discussions are still in progress.

Salmon faming is a contentious issue in some First Nation communities in BC. Beginning June 2022, applications for new or renewal of fish farm licences in the province will have to meet two new criteria before the province approves them: consent from local First Nations that own the territories, and a stipulation from the federal Fisheries Department that the farm won’t endanger BC wild salmon.

Bob Chamberlain, the elected chief councillor of Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation in the Broughton Archipelago said his council “is now getting closer to finalizing a set of recommendations” for a transition plan for the industry in the Broughton archipelago.

He said they have been exploring “a transition plan for the industry that is not going to further impact the wild salmon, but at the same time is respectful of the overall operations.”

“We feel confident that with the support of the provincial government and the federal government that we’ll be able to arrive at a set of recommendations for an agreed-upon transition plan for the industry,” he said.



UK retailer Marks & Spencer has launched an interactive website that answers one of the questions often asked by today’s consumers: where is my food sourced?

On the site, consumers can find out where the seafood it sells comes from; the farming or capture method used and other sustainability-related information for every farm or fishery.

The retailer offers a wide range of products -- from fish fillets to pre-made salads, sandwiches and ready meals – that feature 11 farmed species from eight countries. Ninety-seven percent of the suppliers are third-party certified.  The type of farming method they used is also indicted, for instance net pen farming or suspended rope grown, and each type is explained to the consumer.

For wild catch, the website lists 47 marine species across 71 fisheries, accounting for every kind of seafood that M&S uses in its product lines.

“Transparency is an important part of the trust that our customers and stakeholders put in us - that’s why we’ve published this smart tool which lays bare our whole fish supply chain, wherever it is in the world, and however it is fished or farmed,” said Hannah Macintyre, the company’s marine biologist.
Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) has appointed Dr Diane Morrison as managing director.

Morrison is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and has 25 years’ experience in salmon production. She has led Marine Harvest Canada’s Fish Health and Food Safety Department in Western Canada for 18 years.
“I am very passionate about our business, the health of both wild and farm-raised fish, and about the great team we have at Marine Harvest Canada. I am excited to share my experience and build a sustainable future together for our local communities,” said
Morrison, who took over the role from Vincent Erenst in October.

Morrison has been a resident of Campbell River, BC for the past 25 years. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Ontario Veterinary College and has served on multiple research teams publishing on aquaculture and wild salmon in British Columbia, said MHC.
Cooke Aquaculture has named Claire Ryan as director of public relations.

Ryan has extensive experience in community relations and public engagement. She was formerly the manager of public affairs of the Canadian Automobile Association – Atlantic, and held roles with Enterprise Saint John, National Public Relations, and MT&L Public Relations Ltd.

“Her background in corporate communications, community engagement, and social media strategy will support Cooke’s overall mission and values as a sustainable seafood leader,” said Joel Richardson, vice president of public relations at Cooke Aquaculture.

Ryan is a local resident of St John and holds a masters degree in Communications Management from McMaster University. “Our company’s success is driven by our dynamic, highly-skilled and innovative management team, supported by dedicated employees who live in coastal communities and contribute to the local area’s economy and sense of community. Claire has a keen interest in working with our teams across the company to help share the Cooke story. We are confident that she will do a marvelous job,” said Richardson.



North Island College (NIC) in British Columbia is launching a new Aquaculture Technician certificate in January 2019. The program is designed to equip students with technical skills to work with a variety of species in BC’s growing aquaculture industry.

The four-month certificate is the first of two new aquaculture offerings at NIC, developed in response to an industry call for workers with broader field skills.

“We heard from industry about the need for more advanced technician training and education to fill current and projected vacancies,” said Cheryl O’Connell, NIC’s dean of trades and technical programs. “This new certificate prepares students for entry-level positions and provides an excellent foundation for further studies.”

NIC has offered Level 1 Aquaculture Technician Training since 2014. The new certificate includes Technician Level 1 training, with an updated curriculum, more occupational health and safety training and the ability to ladder into BC’s first advanced production-training program, the Aquaculture Technician diploma, scheduled to begin in Fall 2019.

Renowned aquaculture researcher and educator, Dr Jesse Ronquillo, developed the programs’ curriculum in consultation with the BC Shellfish Growers Association and the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“The growing interest in aquaculture around the world is creating a need for technical training and education,” said Ronquillo. “These programs prepare students for a range of industry jobs, from hatchery to farm-site work. The certificate trains students in a variety of aquaculture species including finfish, shellfish and algal production techniques.”

Both aquaculture programs will take place at NIC’s Campbell River campus, now undergoing a $17.6-million expansion and renovation. "The planned facility will enable students to raise a variety of species through various development stages,” said Ronquillo.

Farmed salmon is BC’s top exported agrifood and seafood commodity, contributing $1.5 billion towards the BC economy between 2013 and 2016. Geoduck clam exports rose 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 and oyster exports have increased annually since 2010, data from BC Agriculture and Seafood Statistics 2017 show.
The Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is investing around $500,000 (C$588,000) to boost employment opportunities in the province’s aquaculture industry.

The fund, which was disbursed to the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA), will be used to develop “labor market information tools and products.”

“The development of labor market tools specific to aquaculture will further help build the industry and create the jobs needed to support a bright future for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” said Al Hawkins, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, who announced the grant at NAIA’s Cold Harvest Conference and Trade Show in St John’s on September 26.

The funding comes at a time when the Canadian aquaculture industry is suffering from a labor shortage. Latest data from the Canadian Agriculture Human Resources Council indicates that there is an 11-percent vacancy rate in the industry and millions of dollars in lost revenue because of the labor shortage.

The initiative builds on over $396,000 provided to NAIA to support the development of an Aquaculture Recruitment and Retention Strategy.

“Through this initiative with the provincial government we will be positioned to succeed in providing additional year-round employment to dedicated farmers of the sea in rural coastal communities,” said Mark Lane, Executive Director, NAIA.
Growing more of seafood locally and growing the jobs and food security that come with it are critical to “chip away” at the United States’ $15-billion seafood trade deficit, according to Chris Oliver, head of NOAA Fisheries.

“It’s the perfect time to highlight NOAA’s larger ‘Blue Economy’ initiative as an important guiding force for our seafood future,” Oliver wrote on NOAA’s website, in celebration of October as National Seafood Month.

“Despite the historic success of our wild-capture fisheries, we import almost 90 percent of the seafood we consume, at least half of which is farmed. We would like to shift that dynamic and farm more seafood here in the United States,” he said.

He said aquaculture is a growing priority for the agency and for Congress and both are actively promoting and expanding marine aquaculture.

He cited a number of actions that support the advancement of seafood farming in the US, including NOAA’s work with US Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) for the introduction of  the "AQUAA Act" legislation (short for Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture). The legislation, if passed, is expected to streamline the permitting process in aquaculture and fund industry R&D efforts.
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