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A US startup pioneering a technique of producing lab-grown seafood products has attracted the attention of investors.

BlueNalu of San Diego, California, is in the business of cellular agriculture, which is the creation – in the laboratory – of animal products such as meat, milk, and eggs from cell and tissue cultures. In BlueNalu’s case, seafood will be grown directly from fish cells.

The company says its cellular aquaculture process will provide the industry with a more sustainable way of producing seafood. The two-month-old company has attracted $4.5 million in seed funding.

Lab-grown seafood, anyone?



A shrimp farmer in Dallas, Texas is field-testing a technology that it developed to keep indoor shrimp farms safe from bacteria.

NaturalShrimp, a publicly traded agro-tech company, has started testing the patent-pending technology in a 65,000-gallon tank at its pilot production farm near San Antonio, Texas.

The company says the technology is “potentially disruptive to the entire shrimp farming industry.” “NaturalShrimp’s patent pending Vibrio Suppression Technology effectively eliminates water-borne bacteria and other harmful organisms and keeps ammonia at safe concentration levels, thus eliminating one of the historically most difficult problems in shrimp aquaculture,” it said on its website.
A Canadian town is reportedly considering building an aquaculture service hub that will provide comprehensive services to fish farms in the Atlantic region.

Under the plan, a former shipyard in the town of Marystown, Newfoundland, will be converted into a service facility. Marbase Marystown Inc, a partnership between a Newfoundland-based private equity company and a Norwegian firm are behind the plan, reported the Southern Gazette.

“Marbase will bring together key suppliers to enhance the industry’s supply chain efficiency, enable access to key resources, improve advanced technology transfer, and move Canada’s aquaculture production towards a more modern, sustainable and efficient future,” the publication reported, citing a leaked document.

However, the plan will only move forward if the province of Newfoundland will approve the Grieg NL project, the report said.

Educating consumers in urban centers in British Columbia about the critical role salmon farming plays in the lives of BC families and the economy is a priority for the new executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA), John Paul Fraser.

 “While the importance of salmon farming is well understood in the communities where our members operate, that is not the case in urban centers and there is no question we have work to do on that front. I look forward to bringing forward the story of just how important and progressive this industry is. My first priority is to gain the public’s trust,” said Fraser, whose appointment was announced today.  

Fraser was BC’s deputy minister responsible for Government Communications and Public Engagement until last year. “I was drawn to this role by the opportunity to become an advocate for this important but misunderstood industry at a critical time,” Fraser said.

“I was struck with just how deeply our province’s salmon farmers understand that wild salmon come first and that they play a critical role in protecting wild fish populations. They understand they must, and do, operate responsibly by using the most innovative green techniques and acting on independent science. They also understand how important it is that they are giving consumers a local and healthy alternative to eating wild salmon when making their meal choices.”

The association’s previous executive director, Jeremy Dunn, is now Director of Community Relations & Public Affairs at Marine Harvest Canada.
Chile’s largest chicken processor has announced it is buying 67 percent of Empresas AquaChile, the country’s largest salmon farmer.  

Agrosuper has a salmon unit, Los Fiordos, which sells its produce under the Super Salmon brand.  The company's main markets include the United States, Mexico, Italy,  Japan, China and Brazil, but most exports to these countries are broiler products. The $850-million deal with AquaChile will make it one of the world’s biggest players in salmon aquaculture.

AquaChile markets its produce under the Verlasso brand, “named the first and only ocean-raised farmed Atlantic salmon to receive the ‘Good Alternative’ buy ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program,” according to the company.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.”
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.

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