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. 

A joint decision-making process will decide the fate of salmon farming British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago effective immediately.
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.

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.”

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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.”

The World Aquaculture Society (WAS), Aquaculture Association of Canada (AAC) and Newfoundland & Labrador Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) have signed an historic deal to co-host WAS North America in 2020.
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