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."

Are you thinking about shifting to land-based aquaculture but don’t know where to start? If you, like many others, find it hard to quantify adequately the risks and rewards of a land-based recirculating business, who better to ask than someone’s who’s been through the process of building one? Samuel Chen has, over the past five years, led the development of Hudson Valley Fish Farms, one of the first commercial land-based recirculating farms in North America. During this time, he had the opportunity to evaluate numerous aquaculture facilities from net pens to the full range of closed-containment farms. His role has been to oversee business development, marketing, sales, regulatory affairs, and HR. Samuel doesn’t sugarcoat it for you. Starting a land-based farm, which he likens to “birthing,” isn’t easy. There’s a steep learning curve, he writes, and the Financial Office plays a crucial role from Day 1.


Our vision at Hudson Valley Fish Farms (HVFF) to raise “Wildly Delicious Steelhead”™ in land-based recirculating systems has been a five-year journey before seeing our first fish come to market. This was a leap of faith driven by a vision to be the tip of the spear for a hyper-sustainable way to farm seafood in urban centers across the US.

Our journey has not been a project but the birthing of a business, which has no defined end but rather is a process of bringing together people, process and technology. A project mindset is inevitably finite and short term in nature. A business venture is a going concern that is supported by multiple functions including finance and accounting, which provide a lens to the best path forward and an objective report on progress. These are functions that help us understand execution challenges and risks. However, the Financial Office (FO) cannot be the driver of the vision. The financial view, just like a regulatory-legal view, is not the singular lens for go-no-go decisions.

This is what troubles me as I see new or prospective land-based systems being proposed. Too many of these new ventures are sold to investors as projects with unrealistic financial expectations. The business plans are grossly oversimplified and borrow on models like Michael Porter’s Five Forces to show business viability and competitive positioning.

The pitch usually goes a bit like this – “with control of upstream supply (e.g. broodstock or eggs), securing of downstream sales through off-take agreements (which are actually more letters of intent than agreements), and a team with strong credentials, one is competitively positioned to deliver expected annual returns of 15 percent and a return on capital is possible in three years.” Business plans like these are driven by spreadsheets developed by FOs.

History shows a rule I once heard in an aquaculture short course with Michael Timmons…the 2:2:1 rule. The build will cost you twice as much, take you twice as long as you planned and you will get half of what you projected for your product.

But why is this? I have had the opportunity to experience first hand the development of HVFF and my belief is that it is a matter of understanding phases of development in the birthing process. I propose that land-based recirculating farming should be broken into three key phases – BUILD | OPERATIONS | MARKET ALIGNMENT. The FO has the opportunity to play a life-giving role in both the pre-venture stage as well as in each of these phases through risk management. This necessitates an FO that learns together and evolves with the core business.

In the pre-venture stage, rather than focusing on manipulating spreadsheets and estimating cost and returns (which if provided should be at best understood as a level 5 estimate as outlined by AACE with a range of +100 percent or -50 percent) – FOs should focus on cash flow and burn-rate analysis. It is easy to underestimate costs and timing of returns as there are many variables that only become clear through the subsequent phases once a commitment has been made. The right investor will have the ability to absorb a burn rate for four to five years without seeing any revenue come in from the fish. A rough timeline with milestones should be developed and refined at each stage. Tax implications should be looked at against other investments or business operations that the investor has.


This is the only phase that should be managed like a project with a defined beginning and end. In fact, one of the key roles that the FO should play is a disciplined approach to ensuring completion by the planned date. Delays mean increased costs due to changes in cost of materials, longer time frames to continue paying contractors, and most importantly deferred revenue. This would also mean that finance should be reviewing vendor contracts with the builder/project manager to assess risk of cost and delivery overruns. This phase is about cash-burn and finance can play a critical role in managing the timing of these spends (looking at offsets), potential hedging on currency if supplies are being brought in from out of country (at HVFF, we have equipment from nine different countries), ensuring quoting across multiple vendors and clarifying responsibilities for changes to design. Changes to design result in multiple iterations of as-builts and accumulating unused equipment and supplies (every farm will have a bone yard).

As an aside, it is often in executing this role that the FO can alienate themselves from the build and operations team by taking the controllership role to mean catching what the build team is doing wrong. I remember an instance in our journey where someone from the FO accused our builder of stealing because the price of concrete was triple to what he was told was common in the construction world. Instead of being inquisitive and educating himself on what he does not understand, he made accusations. If he had asked, he would have found out that there were special additives to the concrete used in aquaculture that were necessary to ensure water impermeability and that using certain types of concrete (common to construction) could leach out toxins that would kill fish. The inability to ask the right questions or foster open dialog will kill the FO’s ability to be involved and contribute. During this phase, there is industrial-scale plumbing, infrastructure build and electrical that need to come together with location specific permitting requirements. It is not possible for any one person to have in depth expertise in all areas. The FO needs to learn together and work collaboratively with the build team if they are to be able to be a trusted ally and source of objective reality for the project.


During this phase, one of the FO’s key roles would be to begin classifying heads of expense. An Activity-Based Costing approach should be taken to ensure there is full absorption in the cost of production (CoP) calculation. There will be a lot of “noise” in the numbers that should be filtered out and the FO has a key role in identifying true categories of expense. A high-level business plan may have been developed in the pre-venture stage but it is only in this phase and the next that it is refined into something meaningful.

Amortization and depreciation is perhaps one of the most complicated aspects when it comes to working this into the CoP. I have heard many a conversation around the time frame one should look at for the investment and how to work this into depreciation. This is a gross oversimplification and the FO should really be looking at the lifespan of different capital both from a depreciation and a maintenance budget perspective. There are categories of assets that are more consumables than long-term assets. For example, pumps will have a known lifespan by hours used and would fall under the previous category whereas tanks would fall under the latter. Rather than coming up with an annual maintenance budget that is just a percentage of capital investment (few farms would have the financial luxury to actually set this aside), the FO could delve in deeper with the builder/operational team to understand the likelihood of different categories of equipment that need to be replaced or maintained.

Another key role of the FO is to ask questions regularly around things that concern the operational team and to translate this into a probability and severity to quantify the risk financially. A good FO will help the business systematically and regularly evaluate financial implications of the different aspects in the inner ring and elicit the business to look in more detail at the outer ring to develop plans.

Market risk

Once the farm is operational, as defined by the ability to consistently produce fish, it is the phase in which costs need to be optimized and markets need to be aligned to ensure profitability and returns. It is also during this phase that business processes should begin to be standardized.

Again, the FO could plan a significant role in modelling scenarios and provide analysis for operations to explore efficiencies and for sales to focus on channels that offer higher returns. As an operation matures, it also has the ability to explore different product forms, ranging from head-on gutted fish to fillets to portions to specialized cuts. This kind of segmentation by both product and customer creates the need for analysis of complex blended margins and ultimately contribution to the bottom line.

It is also at this stage that Porter’s Five Forces are more relevant. The FO has an opportunity to facilitate strategic discussions at the leadership level around upstream and downstream integration through the value-chain. As an organization moves from the operational to market phase of a business, data also begins to become more stable and the opportunity for reports and the development of key performance indicators are also made possible. The FO should be providing cash flow reports, trial balances, sales reports and analysis of receivables.

In summary, land-based recirculating aquaculture is a long-term venture that goes through different phases of development as it journeys towards a viable business. Finance and accounting can play a much greater enablement role than providing spreadsheet economics if it learns with and evolves with the core business.

The views presented in this article do not necessarily represent the official views of Hudson Valley Fish Farms but are the personal opinions of the author.

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.

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.

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.

Canada’s federal government has failed in its management of the country’s $1-billion salmon farming industry, according to an auditor’s report released on Tuesday.

The report from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development says Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), which oversees Canada’s fisheries and safeguards its waters, has no national standard for nets and other equipment to prevent escapes, nor has it set 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.

The department was also found to be providing better funding for research related to fish farms than it is for research to help monitor their impact.

"The department is at risk of being seen to promote aquaculture over the protection of wild salmon," reports quoted environment commissioner Julie Gelfand as saying after the reports were tabled in Parliament.

Among the report’s recommendations were for the DFO to:

·      Initiate discussions with its counterparts in the Atlantic provinces to address the quality and maintenance of equipment on salmon farms to prevent fish escapes;

·      provide timely public reports with detailed information on companies’ drug and pesticide deposits, and on the health of farmed fish in British Columbia;

·      develop and implement an approach to validate the accuracy of information that aquaculture companies report regarding their drug and pesticide deposits.

The commissioner said it conducted the review because "salmon aquaculture is a growing industry in Canada ... and raising farmed salmon in net pens in the ocean has potential effects on wild fish that need to be understood and addressed, as appropriate."
A Washington, DC-based seafood company says it has started marketing salmon containing twice the industry standard for health-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids.

The company, Blue Circle Foods, attributed the 100-percent increase in marine Omega-3 content by feeding farmed salmon a feed called “In the Blue,” which is made with microalgae and cleaned fish trimmings and oil.

It says the farmed salmon fed with the feed also contains one of the lowest levels of marine contaminants in the market and has set a new industry record fish-in, fish-out ratio of .47 to 1.

Blue Circle Foods says the innovation was made possible through its partnership with Norwegian fish farm Kvarøy, and feed producer BioMar. The company does not farm fish itself but distributes the harvest of family fish farms in the Norwegian Arctic under the brand Blue Circle Foods.

Blue Circle Foods' farmed Atlantic salmon is sold fresh and frozen at Whole Foods Market stores around the US.

The Washington Department of Ecology has banned a pesticide that was approved two years ago for oyster growers to kill burrowing shrimp.

The department said it made the decision after a lengthy evaluation of the environmental impacts of the pesticide, imidacloprid. The pesticide belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids, which act on the central nervous system of insects.

The state announced Monday that it is too harmful to the ecosystem and decided to deny a request for its approval.

“The science around imidacloprid is rapidly evolving and we can’t ignore it. New findings make it clear that this pesticide is simply too risky and harmful to be used in Washington’s waters and estuaries,” state Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a press release.

The pesticide in oyster farms causes significant negative impacts to water quality, crustaceans in the area, and affects fish and birds by killing sources of food, the state said earlier.

Tighter production controls, new feed sources address some of industry’s key challenges

From tiny inland farms to sprawling net pens, fish farmers around the world are under renewed pressure to embrace more sustainable practices to safeguard an increasingly fragile environment.

2017 was a hectic year for the industry, especially following the collapse, in August, of a net pen in Washington State, which allowed more than 160,000 adult Atlantic salmon to escape into the Puget Sound. The incident invited new scrutiny on the industry and intensified concerns over the effects of foreign fish on wild Pacific salmon native to the area.

At the time, many in the industry argued that the spill involved an outdated salmon-farming structure and suggested that having newer equipment in place could have averted the disaster.

Hallvard Muri, CEO of the Norwegian Akva Group, agrees that using the latest technology is crucial. At a seafood summit in Victoria, British Columbia, last year, he traced how Norway’s introduction in 2012 of new standards for the design and operation of floating fish farms led to the widespread adoption of new equipment and technology and a dramatic decline in fish escapes.

“Since NYTEK regulations were implemented, there’s been a dramatic impact on escapes in Norway – it’s down to virtually zero,” Muri told Aquaculture North America (ANA) in a phone interview.

Norway’s systems approach

But Muri also insists having the latest technology isn’t enough in itself: a concerted effort by government, technology providers, fish farming companies, educators and researchers is necessary to promote growth at sustainable levels.

In addition to NYTEK, the Norwegian government opened 45 new salmon farming licenses, the so-called “green licenses” which gave farmers the opportunity to expand production if they adopted new solutions that reduced sea lice and prevented escapes. A growth management system modelled on the colours of traffic lights was implemented in October 2017—green meant areas where growth could take place, yellow indicated areas to watch, and red was for areas that should reduce production.

“Aquaculture is a sustainable industry when done right, and the technology exists to mitigate escapes and other risk factors,” said Muri. “But it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily about having new, breakthrough technology. You should make sure that technology is used the right way, that things are being kept up to speed, and that equipment is being used before things happen.”

Looking inland

Heightened ecological concerns have boosted interest in inland systems as a greener alternative to net pen aquaculture.

But the reality is there is a limit to growth in land-based fish farming, says Don Read, president of sockeye salmon supplier Willowfield Enterprises, based in Langley, BC.

With inland fish farms, escapes aren’t a problem and wastes and nutrients aren’t discharged into the ocean. But it takes a lot of energy to pump water through these farms, and high land costs means there’s a limit to expansion.

Fish farming at large is a capital-intensive business, Read said. “You have higher production costs and you need significant capital to make it a feasible business, so I think it’s going to remain a niche industry at least for the foreseeable future,” he said. He noted that many producers that were active 20 years ago have either closed shop or aren’t growing salmon anymore.

Willowfield first caught attention in 2013 as the first commercial land-based producer of sockeye salmon and for its non-polluting design—spring water flows into sockeye tanks and then on to trout ponds stocked with native plants that absorb fish waste and ammonia. The solids from the trout ponds and holding pond are used as plant fertilizer.

Read is planning to expand his sockeye operation to 250 to 500 metric tons a year. The company has partnered with Golden Eagle Aquaculture on a land-based coho salmon facility in Agassiz, BC that grows around 200 metric tons of salmon each year.

Read believes farmed fish has a future if it’s marketed right. “As producers, we need to educate more consumers to appreciate farmed fish, which has the advantage of being harvested close to source but may be somewhat more expensive than other fish,” he said.

The feed factor

Another environmental concern in aquaculture is that small "forage" fish are being depleted in the oceans to feed the farmed fish. About a third of all the fish harvested worldwide are processed into fish meal and fish oil—most of which is used to feed other fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fortunately, a number of alternatives exist, including camelina oil, extracted from false flax and rich in omega 3s; the protein FeedKind, which is produced from naturally occurring microbes that are fermented and fed methane gas; and insect protein made from black soldier fly larvae.

“Insect meal has good EPA and DHA content and it’s now everywhere, not just in Canada but also in the US, where it has been used for a long time,” said Cyr Couturier, the scientist who leads the aquaculture programs at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

He sees a huge future for using algae, such as seaweeds and phytoplankton, in fish meal. In Kona, Hawaii, Kampachi Farms has shown that it is possible to grow healthy farmed fish on a plant-based diet. The company replaced the fish oil in its feeds with algae, soybean oil, canola oil, and other extracts, and the fish thrived on the regime.

A huge bonus: Fish grown on plant-based feeds can have fewer dangerous contaminants—a third less mercury and up to 90 percent lower levels of PCBs— according to researchers at the University of Maryland.

"You can raise fish, feed humans and not necessarily pollute the environment," Allen Place, a professor with UM’s Center for Environmental Science, told media.

(This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr 2018 issue of Aquaculture North America.)

Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog and BC environmentalist David Suzuki represented two sides of the salmon farming debate in a Q & A piece in the Vancouver Sun today.

The two men talked about the hot button issue that made headlines in British Columbia in recent weeks — from the impact of salmon farms on wild salmon stocks to land-based aquaculture to the industry’s role in feeding the world’s growing population.

Environmental activists have blamed the fish farming industry for the decline in wild salmon stocks and transfer of diseases from farmed salmon to wild salmon. In the industry’s defence, Aarskog said the decline or increase in salmon stocks is very hard to predict. One has to take into account what happens in the ocean, access to food, overfishing, the effect of global warming and why some (spawning) rivers are doing better than others, he said. “It’s hard to know the impact of farms, but we haven’t found a wild salmon with a disease that came from farmed salmon, yet.”

“We’ve got to stop using the oceans as a garbage can,” said Suzuki, adding that a look at the science tells him that fish farms should not have been in the migratory routes of wild salmon in the first place. He suggested what other activists have espoused for a while now—to move ocean-based fish farms to land.

Aarskog believes a lot more work needs to be done—particularly the technology aspect—to make land-based farming a success. “A lot of money is being put into land-based salmon farming these days. There is one in Miami and a few others in Europe and 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. Instead, we are looking at technologies for closed systems in the ocean.”

Q & A can be found here.

Two oyster farms implicated in the latest norovirus outbreak have been closed by federal authorities.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says 40 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness have been reported to public health authorities since early March.

In late 2016 and early 2017, 347 norovirus outbreak cases associated with raw or undercooked oysters were reported in BC, Alberta and Ontario. That outbreak was declared over in April 2017.

Tidal Enterprises Ltd, a supplier of aquaculture mooring system components has acquired Northwest Wire Rope Ltd, a supplier of industrial wire ropes.

Executives from the two British Columbia-based companies hailed the move as good news for their aquaculture customer base because it expands their products and services for the industry. Their product range now includes products for lifting, rigging and load securement devices made of chain, rope, and synthetic products.

“This is a very exciting event for both companies, for our employees and our clients. Our greatest assets have always been our people, and by joining forces we have just made a huge increase in the quality of that asset. We are bringing together enhanced experience and expertise in the field of safe overhead lifting, heavy equipment lifting, rigging and mooring/anchoring. Our merger will create a more comprehensive infrastructure with faster response times from our new Nanaimo location,” said Lee Poirier, who co-founded Tidal Enterprises with Allen Reid.

Both companies have worked together frequently over the past five years. The executives said the two companies will continue to operate as two entities.

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