Aquaculture North America

GSA and BCSFA collaborate to educate on future of B.C. salmon farming

June 11, 2024
By Aquaculture North America staff

Photo: Screenshot Global Seafood Alliance

The Global and Seafood Alliance hosted a virtual event to educate stakeholders about salmon farming in British Columbia. It was done in collaboration with the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

The event titled, “Farming for the Future: Responsible Salmon Farming in British Columbia,” had six speakers — plus the moderator and BCSFA executive director, Brian Kingzett — who touched on different aspects of salmon farming.

In May, the GSA put out a press release saying it supports the British Columbia salmon farming sector, as it gets closer to the Canadian government announcing its decision regarding salmon farming licensing. GSA noted that all the salmon farming sites in B.C. have been certified by at least one third-party certification program and the salmon farming sector in B.C. provides a reliable source of healthy, responsible protein to Canada and the global marketplace.

Isaiah Robinson, chief deputy councillor for the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation, said the salmon farming industry was all commercially operated and his nation had nothing until Nutreco came along. “Twenty-eight years later, this partnership has now created a 99 per cent employment rate and supports 51 per cent of my economy,” Robinson said.


He said there are social issues in general that are after-effects of colonization but thanks to this industry his people have a daily purpose.

Grieg Seafood B.C. veterinarian, Kathryn Smith, spoke about what goes into raising healthy and happy fish. Smith said they run a disease surveillance program. All the fish are vaccinated before they go to sea. 

“We try and minimize our use of anti-microbials. But if we do have to use them, we go out and take samples of the bacteria we’re targeting. And we run anti-microbial sensitivity tests at before we use the anti-microbials. And then at the end, just to monitor resistance,” Smith said.

On the topic of sea lice which affects salmon, Grieg Seafood B.C. fish health coordinator, Matt Wilson, said they manage the parasite by counting them every week to avoid letting the populations get out of control. They also use in-feed treatments, hydrogen peroxide and water pressure to spray the lice off the fish.

Peter Park, technical manager at Skretting North America, said there’s been extensive research on what has to go into salmon feed. 

In North America, feed composition is about 30-40 per cent, land animal protein, 10-15 per cent vegetable oils, and animal fats. That also includes fish oils comprising 5-8 per cent of that feed to meet essential omega three fatty acids, including EPA, and DHA. Also, supplements are added to the feed and the rest are left for novel ingredients such as insect meal and algal oil. 

“Something that’s ingredients that are new and exciting, that are coming from new technologies,” Park said.

Amanda Luxton, Tsulton site manager at Mowi Canada West, said recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are good for production in hatcheries. In a RAS system, water is recirculated multiple times to grow fish. The water is completely disinfected and cleaned and about 90 to 95 per cent is retained to grow fish. But Luxton said it is heavily financially dependent and takes up a lot of land space. 

“You want to be able to grow happy, healthy fish that anybody can afford and anybody can eat,” she said.

Smith and Wilson said at Grieg Seafood B.C., they’re adapting on the fly to climate change. They try to reduce the amount of carbon emissions. They also reduce the way they run the generators overnight. Smith said they share a lot of oceanographic data that can be used to monitor climate change.

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