Marbase Marystown Inc. announced an ambitious plan in 2019 to turn a tiny Newfoundland shipyard into a crucial service and supply center for the aquaculture industry, including a hatchery for lumpfish.
However, aside from a feed storage and distribution area, the project has not reached full productivity due to a wide variety of external factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental issues and technical challenges. Amid these rising costs, the addition of wolffish to the hatchery was announced.
“Now we have a dual-species license for that hatchery,” said Paul Antle, chairman and CEO of Marbase Marystown. “We plan on splitting the hatchery and that will allow us to justify the CapEx [capital expenditure]. It gives us one product – lumpfish – for farmers to help with sea lice, and the other – wolffish – is direct from our hatchery to the plate.”
Antle says that this diversification provides them with a better economic model, more control over the operation within the facility and makes the project overall more palatable going forward. Asked why wolffish specifically, Antle noted that it helps to differentiate them in the market and that some of their Norwegian partners had been working with wolffish for some time.
“The fish itself is a high-quality white fish, in the same grade as a monk fish, lobster or halibut,” said Antle. “It’s in that higher end of the spectrum by way of value texture. The species is very robust, it’s calm so there’s a low feed factor. It’s got a high tolerance for salinity. It’s grows well in high density environments, so we can have a lot of fish in the tanks. And wolffish is indigenous to Newfoundland and Labrador, so it’s not a species that we’re unfamiliar with. There’s a lot of benefits.”
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