Liza Mayer

Liza Mayer

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Kuterra LP, the land-based Atlantic salmon farm on northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, says market supply of its fish will stop from June as it undertakes a “much-needed maintenance break.”

After it delivers its last harvest in June, sales of Kuterra salmon will resume in early summer 2019 when the smolts currently growing in another part of the facility will have reached maturity, according to the company.

“We've been making changes to our facility as we go, but the next changes have to be done with some of the tanks emptied. Examples of these important changes are overhauling a key part of the water filtration system, upgrading the cooling system, and salt-proofing key components to protect against the level of salinity in our water,” said Garry Ullstrom, CEO.

Improvements to Kuterra’s operations over the past few years have turned things around for the company. It became “cash-positive” for the first time late last year.

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.

With help from a newly launched management software, oyster farmers can now access what’s happening throughout their operation at any time.
A major study examining the fish-eating habits of pregnant women has found that they are not linked to autism or autistic traits in their children.

Scientists at the University of Bristol looked at the assumption that mercury exposure during pregnancy is a major cause of autism using evidence from nearly 4500 women who took part in the Children of the 90s study.

Using analysis of blood samples, reported fish consumption and information on autism and autistic traits from one of the largest longitudinal studies to date, researchers found no links between levels of mercury in the mothers and autism or autistic traits in their children. The only adverse effect of mercury found was poor social cognition if mothers ate no fish at all, especially for girls.

"Our findings further endorse the safety of eating fish during pregnancy. Importantly we've found no evidence at all to support claims that mercury is involved in the development of autism or autistic traits,” said lead author and founder of the Children of the 90s study Professor Jean Golding.

"This adds to a body of work that endorses the eating of fish during pregnancy for a good nutritional start to life with at least two fish meals a week."

It was a long time coming but Delaware’s shellfish aquaculture program has officially kicked off with the planting of the first oyster seeds in Sussex County’s Rehoboth Bay.
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.
A nationwide survey conducted to better understand American consumer perception of aquaculture found that the growth of US aquaculture rests on consumer education and strategic outreach.

Globally, the marine aquaculture industry generates roughly $166 billion per year and is predicted to see steady growth for years to come, but the US, in contrast, lags in terms of production levels, said the study from the University of Maine.

It noted there is growing interest in the industry in cities and towns across the country, but there must be a general understanding and acceptance of farmed seafood by the public in order for the industry to grow.

With a better understanding of consumer decision-making and awareness, stakeholders would be better able to recognize the challenges and opportunities that the industry faces in terms of growth potential and visibility, suggested researchers at the University of Maine.

The survey, which generated more than 1,200 responses from across the country, found “numerous gaps in consumer knowledge about the industry.”

“Public opinion, as we know it, is somewhere in the middle,” says Ross Anthony, a graduate student in resource economics and policy at UMaine, who analyzed survey data. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in how people feel about aquaculture and there is a lot of work left to be done.”

Data also revealed a need for targeted efforts to address knowledge gaps in various demographic groups, including people who are older, have less education, and live in landlocked states.

Interest and engagement with aquaculture increases in communities with high rates of seafood consumption, the survey found. For instance, in Maine where the sea-to-table relationship is more pronounced, fish farmers can use this information to design impactful marketing campaigns and educational programs to increase consumer awareness.

Participants expressed a desire to learn more about aquaculture and seemed, for the most part, open to expansion within the industry, as long as it doesn’t affect other coastal recreation activities.

But few respondents indicated they had actively sought information about aquaculture or related technologies. Data suggested television advertisements, social media postings, and specially designed package labeling might be the best way to reach citizen consumers.

The findings also indicated consumers hold a positive view of scientists and scientific research, which suggests public outreach should be designed with a scientific lens in mind.

While there are many public discussions to be had about the risks and benefits of aquaculture, the research team was encouraged by the general open-mindedness suggested by the responses and believe the information can be used to steward resources toward ongoing research and community conversation.

“People are really on the fence because they don’t have enough information to make a solid opinion about it,” says Murray.

UMaine assistant professor of economics Caroline Noblet and assistant professor of risk communication Laura Rickard led the research team.

Calls to move salmon farming from open-net pens in the ocean to land-based farms will not only increase the pressure on wild salmon but also kill an entire industry in British Columbia and more than 6,600 jobs, according to the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

The association called the recommendation of the Pacific Salmon Foundation for BC to remove open-net pen fish farms and switch to land-based salmon aquaculture as “premature and misguided.”

BCSFA spokesperson Shawn Hall reiterated what initial findings from research under the ongoing Strategic Salmon Health Initiative have so far shown — that there is “no direct evidence that salmon farms are negatively impacting the health of wild Pacific Salmon.”

“In fact, there is important data regarding the health of wild salmon the research team has yet to make public that we believe is important for the public debate,” says Hall.

Calls for switching salmon aquaculture from open-net pen operations to land-based farms are growing as the renewal period for 22 fish-farm tenures in BC approaches in June. A newly formed environmental group calling itself Wild First has added its voice to this call.

Land-based aquaculture is, however, still in its infancy. The technology has yet to prove itself in growing salmon to maturity, and the costs of building a land-based farm remain prohibitive. “So far no one has succeeded because the costs are so high. The oldest one is in Denmark and it has been bankrupt three times,” Alf-Helge Aarskog, CEO of salmon farming giant Marine Harvest, told the Vancouver Sun in April.

Cermaq Canada will no longer sell ASC-certified salmon from its sea-lice affected farms in British Columbia until it has resolved the situation, the company said today.

On May 4, the salmon and trout producer announced that sea lice counts at some of its farms in the Clayoquot Sound region in BC have been higher than usual.

Today’s announcement by Cermaq follows a call by SeaChoice for the Aquaculture Stewardship Council to “immediately suspend” Cermaq Canada’s Dixon Bay, Millar Channel and Ross Pass farms from using the ASC label. An ACS certification verifies that the product was raised in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

“Cermaq takes this matter very seriously and is actively addressing it as quickly as possible through a number of strong actions, both immediate and longer-term in nature,” said David Kiemele, Managing Director for Cermaq Canada, who also said it has spoken with ASC representatives on Friday.

The company said it is “using multiple tools in the immediate-term, including depopulating affected farms while treating others with an environmentally safe hydrogen peroxide bath.” Next year it will start using a hydrolicer, a non-chemical method of combating the sea lice.

“We are 100% committed to investing in robust sea lice control measures, and are continuing to enhance them through investment in new equipment and ongoing research,” said Kiemele.

Marine Harvest’s operational earnings and profit fell by 28 percent and 15 percent, respectively, but the Norwegian salmon producer remains optimistic.
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

A new study on the effects of Piscine Reovirus (PRV) on wild salmon has met with criticism from experts.
China is not one to get left behind as a new era in fish farming begins.
AquaBounty Technologies says it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to raise AquAdvantage Salmon at its land-based contained facility near Albany, Indiana.

The FDA previously approved AquaBounty’s New Animal Drug Application (NADA) on November 19, 2015, for the production, sale, and consumption of AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States. That approval specified that all production facilities for the product would require separate site-specific approvals. To conform with this requirement, the company submitted a supplementary NADA to the FDA requesting approval to grow AquAdvantage Salmon at its farm site near Albany, Indiana.

The Indiana facility as currently configured has a production capacity of 1,200 tons per year and was designed to allow significant expansion.

But while AquaBounty’s Indiana facility is now approved, it cannot proceed with the commercial production of AquAdvantage Salmon until the FDA issues official product-labeling guidelines.

“We still have work to do before we can start production, but we take great pride in this latest accomplishment,” said CEO Ron Stotish.

A scathing review of the Canadian federal government’s management of the salmon industry brings to light the lack of a department at the federal level dedicated to overseeing the aquaculture industry.

Canada’s environment watchdog last week gave Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) a failing grade for its handling of the farmed salmon industry. DFO defines itself as the agency that “oversees Canada’s fisheries and safeguards its waters.” That the word “aquaculture” is missing from this definition is quite telling.

Canada’s seafood farmers have been pushing for an agency at the federal level focused on overseeing and advocating for the $1-billion industry, and for a federal aquaculture act.

“A Federal Aquaculture Act can address many of the issues raised in the Commissioner’s audit and clarify roles and responsibilities of federal regulators, critical for protecting the environment and growing sustainably,” said Timothy Kennedy, Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).

“We understand the federal government is doing a comprehensive review of its approach to aquaculture. This includes looking at a new Aquaculture Act that will provide a modern legal framework for managing the sector. While a new Act by itself will not address all of the Commissioner’s findings, Canada will finally join other major international producing countries in adopting a modern Act that will enhance performance of the sector, environmental protection and economic growth.”

Citing other salmon-producing nations, such Norway, that have “a very strong growth and support component,” Kennedy believes Canada’s salmon farming industry will also flourish if the country has a Federal Aquaculture Act.

“We cannot grow this sector and compete effectively unless we have clarity around the responsibility of the federal government,” Kennedy said.

Among DFO’s shortcomings noted in the Commissioner’s report are its lack of a national standard for nets and other equipment to prevent escapes, and lack of limits on the amount of drugs and pesticides fish farms can use to treat diseases.

The report also found the department had not completed risk assessments for major known diseases, was not addressing new and emerging diseases, was not adequately enforcing regulations aimed at minimizing harm to wild fish, and has no requirement to monitor the health of wild salmon or the status of the ocean floor beneath open net pen salmon farms.

But Susan Farquharson, Executive Director, Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, said “it is important to remember that the DFO is not the primary regulator of salmon farming in Canada.”

“The report does not take fully into account the vital role that other federal agencies and provincial governments play in regulating the salmon farming industry in Atlantic Canada. The provincial regulations work well. Our farmers adhere to rigorous environmental regulations, policies and codes of practice developed by government, scientists and industry. These codes ensure our fish are healthy, properly contained in their pens and that waste is managed responsibly to avoid benthic impact,” Farquharson said in an email to ANA.

Joel Richardson, Vice President Public Relations at Cooke Aquaculture, agrees. “Both the federal and provincial governments already strictly regulate Canadian fish farms. All salmon farms in Canada are certified to Best Aquaculture Practices/ Global Aquaculture Alliance or Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification so not only are farmers in compliance with legislation and regulations, but they are compliant with global standards. As such, fish farmers adhere to rigorous environmental regulations, policies and codes of practice developed by government, scientists and industry,” he told ANA.

The farmers’ “high compliance with licensing conditions” is something that the Commissioner’s report also acknowledged. As did the CAIA: “Salmon farming in Canada today is sustainable, diverse and growing. We can be very proud of our global best practices that produce the highest quality and most nutritious seafood in the world,” said the association.

The commissioner’s report could still prove to be a catalyst for the establishment of a federal agency for aquaculture.

Kuterra CEO Garry Ullstrom told ANA: “Any initiative to establish a separate body to oversee aquaculture in Canada would need to incorporate the findings of the 2017 report from the Federal Advisory Council on Economic Growth. That report highlights the importance of innovation to maintaining Canada's standard of living and growing the economy. We support the report's recommendation that the government aid the expansion of the innovation economy by modernizing regulations and expediting permitting for clean tech companies, such as land-based salmon farming." As for the specific comments in the Commissioner's report, I'd expect that open net-pen industry, or politically engaged people or organizations would have informed comments, for example First Nations, environmental groups or politicians such as BC MP Fin Donnelly. Where Kuterra can offer comment is on federal policy related to the land-based industry.”

Cooke Aquaculture is supporting flood relief efforts in the Canadian suburb of Grand Bay-Westfield outside Saint John, New Brunswick.

The salmon producer, based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, said it is sending a truck loaded with 10,000 sand bags to help protect the affected village from rising floodwaters.

Cooke said it also has boats and equipment on standby to assist if needed and is in daily contact with an emergency measures organization.

Production of farmed fish puts less strain on our ecosystem than terrestrial livestock production because the amount of cropland required to feed fish is less than what livestock require, says a new study.

Researchers from UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) examined how much land would be required to grow the seven most common crops used to feed both terrestrial livestock and farmed fish.

A cow requires anywhere from six to 30-plus lbs of feed to gain one lb of biomass, while most farmed fish need just one to two lbs of feed to do the same. This efficiency translates into much less cropland required to grow feed for the fish that people eat, the study said.

The study revealed the potential benefits of shifting human diets away from meat and toward other protein sources, including seafood.

"The expansion of agriculture across the world is driving most species extinctions and the dramatic loss of ecosystems," said Claire Runge, a research scientist at University of Tromsø - The Arctic University of Norway, told UCSB’s The Current. “Aquaculture offers one way to reduce some of this pressure on our natural landscapes, wild places and wildlife."

While aquaculture is not a panacea for sustainable food production, “the potential is ripe to really do it right,” says lead author Halley Froehlich, a postdoctoral researcher at NCEAS. These include strategic siting of farms and adoption of sustainable feed practices, she said.

"We hope that awareness of how much land can be spared with a fish-rich diet helps individuals make the change,” said co-author Ben Halpern, director of NCEAS. “Similarly, we hope our results put more 'fish on the bones' of policy arguments to make more systematic changes."

A lot, according to results of a poll conducted by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

The organization said majority (92 percent) of ASC-certified fish and shellfish farmers who responded to the survey found that ASC certification enhanced their reputation; 90 percent benefited from meeting buyers’ preference; and 87 percent gained access to new market opportunities.

An ACS certification verifies that the product was raised in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. To date, more than 600 farms have been certified, the majority of which are in Europe and Asia, and 11,000 different products are available on the market bearing the ASC consumer label. ASC surveyed farms certified to all eight ASC Farm standards and got a 21-percent response rate.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the farmers said they valued the opportunity to reduce their environmental impact, and three quarters had become more aware of sustainability issues related to feed use.

More than one third of them found that their use of antibiotics and therapeutic medicines had decreased, while a quarter reported that their feed conversion ratio had lowered, thus reducing feed costs and environmental impact. Notable improvements in water quality and a reduction in fish mortalities were also linked directly to working through the ASC certification process, the organization said.

ASC certification was also found to have a positive effect on local communities, with 67 percent experiencing improved relationships. Over two thirds of farmers were found to actively support local communities through social projects, financial support and sponsorship of sporting events.

“Overall the survey showed us that we are doing a lot of things right. Our farm partners are important stakeholders and these findings are also an opportunity for us to further improve our offering,” said ASC CEO Chris Ninnes.

Farmed salmon has the lowest overall cost to the environment compared to other major animal proteins, says the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) in its latest sustainability report.

Farm-raised salmon has shown to be one of the most eco-efficient forms of protein production, ranking low (9.8) in terms of carbon footprint than any commercially raised food, such as chicken (43.2), pork (56.7) and beef (337.2).

Due to an increase in the use of non-medicinal approaches and sharing of best practices in sea lice management, the use of medicinal sea lice treatments has gone down by 40 percent over the past five years among GSI members, the report said. GSI members comprise 17 salmon farmers around the world, which together account for over 50 percent of the global farmed salmon sector.

The report added that continued innovations in the sourcing and efficiency of feed ingredients have enabled GSI members to reduce their use of fish oil and fishmeal by 16 percent and 15 percent (calculated per forage fish dependency ratio), respectively.

GSI’s sustainability report provides consumers and stakeholders a lens through which they can measure the salmon industry’s performance. It is the fifth year GSI members have released the report since the initiative’s launch in August 2013.

Its 17 members operate in eight countries – Australia, Canada, Chile, Faroe Islands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom — and over 40 percent of their production is now certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard.

Cooke Aquaculture is boosting its sea-lice management tools with addition of the Thermolicer technology — a Norwegian invention that uses warm-water baths to remove sea lice.

“The Thermolicer exploits a vulnerability of sea lice that we know do not tolerate sudden changes in water temperature. Sea lice are immediately sensitive to sudden temperature changes. By suddenly heating the lice, it will fall off the fish,” said Tore Laastad of Steinsvik, which designed the technology.

Blacks Harbour-based Cooke Aquaculture said trials of the technology last summer proved it to be 98 percent effective at removing the lice without harming the fish. It has since equipped one of its vessels — the Miss Mildred — with the technology and brought it into service recently.

“This is an exciting evolution in sea lice management for us. Thermolicer is a simple and effective treatment that further reduces our need to use chemicals or medicines,” said Joel Richardson, Vice President, Public Relations for Cooke Aquaculture.

He added that it is the first time that the Norwegian technology is being used in Atlantic Canada to combat sea lice.

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