Liza Mayer

Liza Mayer

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US Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has introduced a legislation that aims to streamline the permitting process in aquaculture and fund industry R&D.

“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the agriculture industry,” Wicker said. “This bill would give farmers a clear, simplified regulatory path to start new businesses in our coastal communities. The "AQUAA Act" (short for Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture) would also fund needed research to continue the growth and success of this important industry.”

Over 90 percent of the seafood in the United States is imported, 50 percent of which is derived from aquaculture. Currently, the United States does not have a comprehensive, nationwide permitting system for marine aquaculture in federal waters, and there are no aquaculture farms in federal waters.

The AQUAA Act would establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be charged with coordinating the federal permitting process. Additionally, a permit would be established through NOAA that would give an individual the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation.

The legislation would also maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture in the United States.
The first harvest of Atlantic salmon from the first commercial-scale land-based aquaculture facility in the United States is set to hit the market on July 4.

Superior Fresh, LLC harvested 2,000 lbs HOG (head-on-gutted) Atlantic salmon during the last week of June.

Brandon Gottsacker, president of the Northfield, Wisconsin-based company, has a lot to celebrate as it took a lot of hard work to get to this point.  “Concept to harvest took approximately three and a half years. Facility design began in early 2015 and construction commenced in early 2016. There were a lot of lessons learned along the way. The largest lesson is truly understanding the relationship between the Fish House and the Greenhouse and optimizing both simultaneously,” he told Aquaculture North America (ANA).

He added: “There are no other facilities that are currently growing Atlantic salmon in the United States let alone in conjunction with a commercial greenhouse.”

Superior Fresh’s Atlantic salmon weighs approximately 8.5 lbs as HOG fish. The initial harvest will be sold in all the Wisconsin-based Festival Foods grocery stores.

“We plan to harvest Atlantic salmon and steelhead every week of the year in order to make sure that the freshest product is available to the consumer,” said Gottsacker.

The aquaponics component of the business is anticipated to produce about 4,500 lbs of leafy greens and herbs a day. 


Efforts to combat sea lice infestations through natural means have advanced with the first spawning of farmed ballan wrasse in captivity.

Wild ballan wrasse has been used in salmon farms in Scotland for years as a non-chemical way of controlling sea lice infestations, but reliance on wild catch is unsustainable.

The milestone in the culture of the so-called “cleaner fish” has been reached at a hatchery in Machrihanish, Scotland, which is a joint venture between Marine Harvest and Scottish Sea Farms.

Although the wrasse produced at the hatchery will go to the companies’ salmon farms, the industry will benefit from the research. “The research we have done here is for everybody. We have close links with Norway and other hatcheries in Scotland and the information can be disseminated all around the industry. It is a joint industry project and we welcome the opportunity, if need be, to supply larvae to hatcheries,” says hatchery manager Paul Featherstone.

There are plans to expand the existing facility over the next few years, and the expansion could enable the hatchery to produce 1.5 to 2 million wrasse annually, says Featherstone.

“This is a total win-win situation,” says John Rea, director of Scottish Sea Farms, in a film about the role of wrasse in salmon aquaculture. “Our fish are better off by having this partner in their nets alongside them. It means we have a much lower environmental footprint than we’d otherwise have; the medicine bill is reduced. It makes salmon more suitable.”



A joint decision-making process will decide the fate of salmon farming British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago effective immediately.
Massachusetts-based biotech company KnipBio has been awarded a grant to study how changes in diet can alleviate enteritis and other diseases in aquaculture.

The company is known for its fishmeal ingredient called KnipBio Meal (KBM), which is derived from microbes instead of wild-caught fish or agricultural crops.

Enteritis is a common diet-related disease in farm-raised carnivorous fish that can lead to slower growth and increased mortality. It is estimated this disease costs the aquaculture industry more than $1 billion per year.

Preliminary feed trials have consistently found that fish and shrimp fed KnipBio Meal experience improved gut health, lower rates of enteritis, and reduced mortality levels compared to populations raised on standard industry diets. The goal of the grant is to study the mechanism by which KBM acts as a prebiotic to affect gut health of rainbow trout and identify the specific components in KnipBio Meal responsible for this effect. It will be conducted over the course of one year and, if successful, may lead to additional funding to commercialize the findings.

The grant was from Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Science Foundation.
The United States imported more than 6 billion lbs of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017, the highest on record, while exporting more than $3.6 billion lbs valued at about $6 billion, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others in fisheries are looking at new strategies to cut the deficit, including increasing the amount of aquaculture-based farming, said Jennie Lyons, a NOAA spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, Ross said the deficit represents “untapped” potential opportunities in the nation’s aquaculture industry. “Expanding our nation’s aquaculture capacity presents an opportunity to reduce America's reliance on imports while creating thousands of new jobs,” he said.

With the help of over $30,000 in travel grants, 14 students from universities around the world will showcase their research at the 8th International Symposium on Aquatic Animal Health (ISAAH), which will be held September 2-6, 2018, in Charlottetown, PEI.

ISAAH, held every four years, is co-hosted this year by the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), the PEI BioAlliance, and the American Fisheries Society-Fish Health Section. This will be only the second time that it has been hosted in Canada since the inaugural conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1988.

The travel grants are provided by the Fish Health Section of the American Fisheries Society and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Aquatic Epidemiology located at AVC. The students will present research on topics including emerging diseases in fish and biosecurity implications; the effects of the ornamental aquarium fish trade; injuries and disease in Pacific salmon; and pathogens and parasites affecting various species like wild and farmed fish, crustaceans, manatees, and amphibians.

“This conference is an excellent opportunity for the students to present their research and to network with world leaders in aquatic animal health,” said Dr David Groman, local chair of the conference and Section Head for Aquatic Diagnostic Services at AVC.

Early bird registration for the symposium ends on July 13. For more information, visit https://isaah2018.com/

A probiotic supplement that has been proven to boost larval oyster survival by 20 to 35 percent is ready for manufacturing but the path to commercialization may not be that easy.

Probiotic OY15, a benign strain of Vibrio bacteria found in the oyster gut, was developed by microbiologist Diane Kapareiko and her team at NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut. Their goal was to help oyster hatchery managers boost the survival of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae and seed, and improve their defenses against bacteria.

It is a promising drug, but Tom Hashman, director of business development for Envera, said there are hurdles for getting the Food and Drug Administration to approve any probiotic, and a Vibrio-based bacteria might present additional hurdles.

While this particular Vibrio strain is confirmed benign and has shown it can be a “good” bacteria that boosts the oyster’s immune system and is safe for humans to handle, harmful Vibrio strains known to be human pathogens can cause serious illness and be fatal if an immune-compromised person ingests them or is infected through a cut in their skin while swimming in seawater.  

Kapareiko says a partner is now being sought to produce the probiotic on a commercial scale.  “If it were to go commercial, in a perfect world, if we had a company that said yes and went forward with commercializing it, it could possibly be another couple of years before it reaches the market,” she said.
Twenty salmon operations in British Columbia's Broughton Archipelago whose tenures expired on June 20 were given new lease on life for another four years.

Within those four years the fish farms will have to meet two new criteria or have their tenures cancelled by June 2022: consent from local First Nations that own the territories and a stipulation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that the farm won’t endanger BC wild salmon.

Until such an agreement is in place, the farms are operating on a month-to-month basis. The 20 tenures that expired account for 17 percent of the 120 finfish aquaculture tenures across British Columbia. Marine Harvest holds 11, Cermaq holds eight, and Grieg Seafood holds two. There are 23 tenures in total in the area.

Discussions between the First Nations in the Broughton territories and the salmon industry are ongoing. A BC Agriculture Ministry official said the choice of year 2022 as the deadline for new agreements aligns with the current renewal date of the substantial majority of fish licences (95 sites or 79 percent of the all tenures in BC) issued by DFO. “The province also felt it would be a reasonable time for the industry to try to meet those expectations [the two new criteria], or to give them time to transition away from those sites,” he said.

British Columbia salmon farmers say they have not been consulted on policy changes governing applications for new fish farm licenses or renewal of expiring leases.
Oyster farmers in British Columbia can now access a million-dollar fund that will support this year’s oyster stock re-seeding efforts.

The $1.3-million BC Oyster Recovery Fund will also support a marine norovirus pilot research survey that will monitor the travel patterns of pathogens through Baynes Sound. Another project it will fund is research that could lead to the development of an early warning system for pathogen transfer.

“Oyster growers in our province work hard to support their families in coastal communities,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Right now, they need our help, and the BC Oyster Recovery Fund will provide key supports for the sector to address the recent challenges they have faced, and will increase consumer confidence in our amazing oysters.”

“We are grateful for the assistance provided by the Ministry of Agriculture to help farmers recover from the impacts of environmental issues beyond their control,” said Darlene Winterburn, executive director, BC Shellfish Growers Association. “This emergency funding will go a long way to build confidence and to provide stability for our farmers. The research will benefit everyone who lives on BC's coasts.”

Do wild salmon interact with farmed salmon? If so, how often?  These are just some of the questions that a new project hopes to answer to determine why wild salmon populations are declining.

The $500,000 study launched by New Brunswick’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is in cooperation with the aquaculture industry. It involves establishing 24 receiver sites on Passamaquoddy Bay and the river system. Sixty young salmon were tagged in the river system and then released. Those tags trip a sensor in the receivers when the fish swim within range. That information will inform scientists whether wild salmon are in fact interacting with farmed salmon in open-net pens and how often.

“There are concerns about the potential transfer of disease from wild salmon to aquaculture, but also the potential for transfer of disease from aquaculture to wild salmon,” DFO researcher Marc Trudel told Global News.

With this being a pilot project, it’s not known how long it will take to gather the needed information, or how that data may shape future policies, Trudel added.
New Brunswick’s oyster farming industry has grown 57 percent over the past five years due to the mechanization of farming processes and access to funding, according to Marie-Josée Maillet of the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.
IFFO, The Marine Ingredients Organisation has appointed Petter Martin Johannessen as director general.
Interest is growing in Canada’s “other weed” — seaweed, that is.
Burrowing shrimp infestation will devastate oyster growers’ businesses and habitat for dungeness crab and eel grass if the ban on the pesticide imidacloprid remains, according to oyster growers in Washington State.
Efforts to restore the population of wild Atlantic salmon in the Inner Bay of Fundy between Nova and New Brunswick has reached a milestone as wild-hatched offspring are leaving their home rivers for the first time and migrating to the Bay of Fundy to feed.
Coastal First Nations leaders have told Shepherd Conservation Society to stay off their traditional territories and partners’ farms this summer.

First Nations leaders and salmon farm workers spoke about the importance of aquaculture at a gathering in Campbell River, BC, on June 1.

Tlowitsis Chief John Smith recalled how foreign members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have harassed salmon farms for the last two summers.

He said salmon farming has become an important economic driver for his members, creating jobs and economic activity allowing them to purchase land f or their community and establish a post-secondary education scholarship fund for their youth. “You are not invited here,” said Smith, addressing the activists.

Harold Sewid , Clan Chief of the Broughton-based WiumasgumQwe’Qwa’Sot’Enox, noted how he had a change of heart about salmon farming after seeing the industry’s efforts toward sustainability.

James Walkus owns a business based in Port Hardy that transports fish from Marine Harvest farms. Also a commercial fisher, he operates five vessels and employs up to 30 people at a time. He currently has a new boat intended to harvest farm - raised salmon in the Broughton under construction in North Vancouver. “Aquaculture needs to continue,” Walkus said. “The employment it creates for many of our First Nations and other Canadians is important. In Klemtu, it is the major employer. We need it, British Columbia needs it, the world needs it. If we don’t do it some other country will and it will be our loss and some other country’s gain.”

Maurice Isaac, a member of the Tlowitsis First Nation, has worked in salmon farming for 18 years. He started as a farm technician and has worked his way up to managing a Marine Harvest farm site.

“As one of many First Nations people working in the industry I want people to know it’s not as activists are portraying it,” Isaac said. “Come visit our farm, and you will see healthy fish and modern technology. I feel I do my part in keeping wild salmon stocks alive by growing Atlantic salmon. Without this there would be no wild salmon left, in my opinion.”



Steve Summerfelt has joined the first commercial-scale Atlantic salmon RAS facility in the US.

“My experience at the Freshwater Institute has been incredible. We have overcome many of the biological, technical, and economic challenges that fish farmers must overcome when using RAS. Many challenges remain for commercial producers using RAS and the Freshwater Institute team and facilities are still well prepared to develop solutions to overcome these challenges,” Summerfelt told Aquaculture North America (ANA).

“The massive expansion of the land-based salmon-trout farming industry is actually quite intimidating because I’m not convinced that all of the players have the technology and experience to do this right. Yet, with this transition, I will be able to help Superior Fresh – the leader in commercial land-based production of Atlantic salmon in the USA – sustainably expand production of both fish and produce,” he continued.

“I look forward to continuing to innovate and optimize RAS and aquaponic production while working for industry. This will also allow me to continue providing the very best technology to Superior Fresh and hopefully leave a legacy of success.”

First wine, now whisky.

A startup that’s developing aquaculture feed made with byproducts from the whisky distilling process has attracted roughly $671,600 (£500,000) in investment.

The company, MiAlgae, uses by-products from the distilling process to grow Omega 3-rich algae for feeding farmed salmon.

 Douglas Martin founded the company while a masters student at the University of Edinburgh in 2015-16. He said he wanted to revolutionize the animal and fish feed industries with microalgae that come from whisky.

The investment, in equal shares from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies, and the University’s venture fund Old College Capital, will enable the company to expand its team and build a pilot plant for its technology at a whisky distillery.

"This investment will fund the initial scale-up steps and de-risk our commercial facility. It certainly sets us on track to achieve our ambitions," Martin said.

Earlier, in Australia, an aquaculture feed made with grape marc – skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over after wine is made – has shown promising results in lab trials.

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