Liza Mayer

Liza Mayer

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Expenditures have driven Aquabounty Technologies’ losses to widen in the first half of 2018 to $5.2 million from $4.1 million in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The producer of the AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon attributed the losses to pre-production costs at its Indiana farm and R&D activities at the Rollo Bay hatchery in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

In an update on the Indiana farm that the company acquired last year, AquaBounty said it has stocked it with traditional Atlantic salmon eggs and has commenced grow-out activities while waiting for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to import AquAdvantage Salmon eggs.

The company is prevented from importing its AquAdvantage Salmon eggs from Canada due to the existence of an "Import Alert" pending the FDA's issuance of final labelling guidance for the product, it said in an earlier announcement.

“The Company has indicated that it is fully prepared to comply with labelling requirements for its product in order for this process to conclude in the near term.”  

It expects the import alert on AquAdvantage Salmon to be lifted in the second half of the year.
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 Improvements
Species Research and Data Collection
Research to Improve Farming Practices
Fisheries Management
Regional Aquaculture Management
Fishery Habitat Restoration
Wild Stock Enhancement
Fisheries Conservation
Fisheries Improvement Projects
Aquaculture Improvement Projects

“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.

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

Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) is looking for a new managing director.

Current managing director, Vincent Erenst, is leaving the company in October for a new opportunity, the company announced.

The salmon producer thanked Erenst “for his dedicated and successful work” in the company’s Western Canadian Operations.

“Vincent has been the Managing Director of Marine Harvest Canada since 2007, overseeing the build out of a sustainable business unit for Marine Harvest. He has also taken leadership roles within the industry in British Columbia and Canada, serving as the Chair of the BC Salmon Farmers Association for many years. Marine Harvest expresses its sincere thanks to Vincent for the very significant contribution he has made to the development of Marine Harvest Canada. The company wishes him all the best and continued success in his new working life,” said MHC.

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.
One needs only to mention erratic shrimp prices, disease outbreaks and supply shortage and it becomes clear that the shrimp-farming sector is in dire shape.

Global Aquaculture Alliance  (GAA) President George Chamberlain believes the future of shrimp aquaculture lies primarily in breeding innovations.

“I want to make the case with you that there’s nothing we can do in any aspect of aquaculture that has the cumulative benefit year after year as breeding. I would say it is the primary driver of improvement,” he told the audience at Aquavision 2018 in Norway.

Shrimp diseases such as early mortality syndrome and Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) “slowed down the industry’s growth to a crawl,” he said, and impact prices.  “Shrimp prices are very volatile due to high prices when there’s a disease outbreak and a shortage in supply, and a plunge in prices when there’s a recovery.”

Chamberlain said breeding innovations would be key to addressing the industry’s challenges.

“In breeding it’s reasonable to expect a 10-percent improvement every generation. If you’re a feed supplier for example, you would be lucky to get a 2-percent improvement each year and can’t probably do it every year. I would say that’s true in every aspect of the value chain, such as processing, hatchery etc. So breeding is super important.”

Breeding today is focused on “agronomic  traits,” characteristics that farmers want, he added. These include traits for growth, resistance to multiple pathogens, reproductive performance and soy tolerance, to name a few. “In the case of shrimp, vaccines don’t work per se since they don’t have an antigen antibody system, so genetic resistance is an incredible tool. The Ecuadorians have certainly demonstrated that,” Chamberlain said.
The legalization of recreational marijuana looms in British Columbia this Fall but employers in the province’s aquaculture industry interviewed by Aquaculture North America (ANA) say there will be no change in their current policies concerning controlled substances in the workplace.

“Although much talked about, the upcoming legislative changes around recreational cannabis don’t change current workplace policies. We are planning some outreach to remind staff of this, but impairment in the workplace is a safety issue and is governed by WorkSafe BC (a provincial government agency responsible for workplace safety.) At Creative Salmon, recreational cannabis use/impairment in the workplace is forbidden. Post legalization, that will still be the case,” Lisa Stewart, human resources manager of Tofino-based Creative Salmon, tells ANA.

Policies are also in place regarding the use of controlled substances at Marine Harvest Canada (MHC), says Jeremy Dunn, director of community relations and public affairs. “Recreational cannabis will be added to the list of controlled substances in BC (along with alcohol) and our policies will be updated to include where appropriate,” says Dunn.

In the shellfish industry, “anecdotal evidence suggests shellfish farmers will not allow pot in the workplace or during work hours any more than alcohol is permitted,” says Darlene Winterburn, executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association. WorksafeBC regulations set the standard for industry rules that pertain to employee impairment by alcohol, drugs and other substances. The safety of our workers is paramount.”

But aquaculture diver Kelly N. Korol is concerned. The director of Training/Owner of DIVESAFE International says that a lot of dive companies and dive supervisors are worried about rules and how this will affect the workplace.

“It will be available as readily as alcohol,” says Korol, but unlike alcohol intoxication, which gives off clues such as smell and behaviors, and where tests are available to determine the level of intoxication, pot intoxication does not, he wrote in DIVESAFE newsletter, which the company shared with ANA.

“Who can say if glassy eyes are a result of pot or simply allergies?,” Korol asks. He says it is not about the diver’s ability to dive, but rather it is about responsibility to co-workers because it could put others in harm’s way. “The bottom line is that responsibility must fall on the diver. No matter how together one feels after smoking a big fatty (a marijuana cigarette), they should not be diving commercially.”

The provincial government says recreational marijuana will be legal beginning October 17, 2018. “We’re now focused on developing the regulations and supporting policies for the implementation of our provincial regulatory regime. We are also working on provincial public awareness and education campaigns, to ensure British Columbians have the information they need regarding legalization and our provincial regulations when they come into force,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in announcing the federal Cannabis Act.
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.

Pending US tariffs on $200-billion worth of Chinese imports has opened conversations on who will win or lose in the trade spat. But according to the NRF, American families and workers would be the clear losers.

“The latest list of $200 billion of products to be subject to tariffs against China doubles down on a reckless strategy that will boomerang back to harm US families and workers,” said the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“The threat to the US economy is less about a question of ‘if’ and more about ‘when’ and ‘how bad.’ Tariffs on such a broad scope of products make it inconceivable that American consumers will dodge this tax increase as prices of everyday products will be forced to rise. And the retaliation that will follow will destroy thousands of US jobs and hurt farmers, local businesses and entire communities,” the association said.

The US decision to impose higher tariffs stems from China’s “unfair” and “harmful” industrial practices that restrict trade between the two countries. Under the plan, the US will levy 10-percent tariffs on a lst of imports from China. The list includes a wide range of seafood that goes to China for reprocessing and then imported back into the US for the local market.

Tariffs on seafood

Increasing tariffs has its share of supporters, however. Some US shrimp suppliers believe the tax will help curb oversupply. Some tilapia producers believe the tariffs will make trade with their Chinese counterparts more equitable.

“It’s about time we did something to level the playing field as it were, through the shrimp and tilapia, two of the major seafood coming out from China. Cannery is a government-subsidized industry in China. They keep the prices low to keep competition out,” commented Bill Martin, president and CEO of Virginia-based Blue Ridge Aquaculture.

Martin noted that as a live-tilapia supplier, the tariffs issue has no impact on Blue Ridge Aquaculture, known as the world’s largest producer of indoor-raised tilapia. “But we hope down the line when we start to process fish this will give us a level playing field,” he told Aquaculture North America (ANA).

He is confident the tariffs will not have much of an impact on US tilapia prices. “I would be surprised it if it will be much of an increase. Central America suppliers and Brazil are moving into tilapia in a big way, Chile is moving into it in a big way. I expect that void to be filled very quickly [by them].”

The planned tariffs will be finalized in late August after the public-comment period. Martin is hopeful the trade spat will be short term and a deal will be struck before it will have any impact.

NRF is meanwhile urging the Trump administration to strike a deal with China.

“The administration has been pursuing tariffs now for months and we still don’t know what the endgame is. Now is the time to get back to the negotiating table with China while working through a global coalition that shares our concerns. The way things are shaping up, it may be too late, but we hope the administration changes course before we lose the momentum from tax and regulatory reform and return to an era of high prices, job loss and negative growth in our economy,” the group warned.
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.

Marine Harvest’s operational earnings fell by roughly 12 percent to €175 million ($205 million) in the second quarter (Q2) of 2018 compared to Q2 2017.

The Norwegian salmon producer harvested 78,5000 tonnes of gutted weight equivalent, which is lower than the total harvest volume of 82,000 tonnes predicted. 

The company will release its complete Q2 2018 report on 22 August.

Aquaculture’s crucial role in feeding the world’s growing population is underscored yet again in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) biennial report, “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.”

Global fish production peaked at about 171 million tonnes in 2016, of which aquaculture accounts for 53 percent (excludes non-food uses) or 80 million tonnes, with first-sale value of $231.6 billion.

With 5.8 percent annual growth rate since 2010, aquaculture continues to grow faster than other major food production sectors. In 2016, aquaculture production increased by 4 million tonnes over the previous year.

In contrast, capture fisheries production was at 90.91 million tonnes, relatively unchanged since the late 1980s. This shows aquaculture has been responsible for the continuing impressive growth in the supply of fish for human consumption, says the report.

Fish consumption is also at an all-time high at 20.3 kg per capita in 2016 versus just under 10 kg per capita in the 1960s. The report attributes this too to increased production via aquaculture.

By 2030 the world will eat 20 percent more fish (or 30 million tonnes live equivalent) than in 2016. Aquaculture production that year is projected to reach 109 million tonnes, a growth of 37 percent over 2016.

The projected increase in global fish consumption raises concerns over sustainability of fish farming and fisheries, however. The United Nations warns future growth will require continued progress in making aquaculture and fisheries more sustainable. For instance, the sectors can improve efforts in reducing the amount of fish being discarded at sea or thrown out post-capture by using discards and trimmings to produce fishmeal, it said.
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.  
Fish farmers are learning vauable lessons as they get their feet wet in ocean farming.

Proponents behind a yellowtail kingfish experimental ocean farm in New South Wales, Australia found out the hard way the destruction biofouling could inflict on ocean pen structures.

Huon Aquaculture of Tasmania and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, who are behind the ocean farm, acknowledged that barnacles and mussels believed to have been introduced from a nearby port damaged one of the sea pens and caused 20,000 fish to escape early this year.

“This was an unexpected problem and to develop the equipment needed to address this problem will take time,” Pender Bender, CEO of Huon Aquaculture, told ABC News.

Huon is working with an American manufacturer to design new net cleaning equipment and said it will not install additional pens in the meantime.

Initial results of the five-year kingfish research project have otherwise exceeded expectations. The kingfish (Seriola lalandi) grew to market size faster than expected and there were no issues with feeding or pathogens.

The 62-hectare research site is situated six-km from land. It is subject to some of the roughest sea conditions in the world, but while it has so far withstood swells up to six meters and some waves up to 11-meters high, the proponents are not taking any chances so they’ve bolstered the structures further, the report said.

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.
Marine Harvest says it has finalized its acquisition of Northern Harvest, a salmon farmer on the East Coast of Canada.

The Norwegian salmon producer received a "No-Action Letter" from the Canadian Competition Bureau on 22 June, which meant the company could proceed with closing the transaction.

Northern Harvest is a fully integrated operation; it has its own broodstock, smolt/hatchery, farming sites and processing operations.

It is expected to harvest 19,000 tonnes of salmon this year. It has currently 45 farming licenses in Newfoundland and New Brunswick and has applied for additional 13 farming licenses.

Marine Harvest, which announced in December its intention to acquire the Canadian company, said at that time: “The potential acquisition supports Marine Harvest's long-term strategy of being a world leading and integrated producer of seafood proteins.”
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.

Passionate farmers and technical experts are undaunted by challenges in their quest to buoy Alabama’s fledgling shrimp industry.

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