The newly elected chief of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River, British Columbia is noncommittal about the future of salmon farms operating in his people’s traditional territories but signalled his openness to dialogue with the industry.

Chris Roberts, who was elected as Chief Councillor in April, told members of the BC Salmon Farmers Association at the Seafood West Summit on Friday that there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of engagement.

“Dialogue is required and that’s going to happen under my leadership with my council. “We’re certainly willing to engage and sit down when we can. It’s a highly politically contentious issue in my community and being an elected community leader I want to assure my people that I’ve got their best interest. But I’m open minded,” he said.

Beginning June 2022, British Columbia will only grant tenures to fish farm companies that have agreements in place with the First Nation territories they operate in or propose to operate in, and who have satisfied Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that their operations will not impact wild salmon.

Roberts said he was glad to find out from a wild salmon summit he attended the previous week that wild salmon face “a myriad of things,” such as changing ocean conditions, upstream developments, sewage seepage. “It was reassuring to see that that conversation includes other things and not just the salmon farming industry being the ‘culprit’,” he said.  

He acknowledged he will need some time to educate himself on the science and practices that have improved within the aquaculture industry. He also said he is confident the industry will continue on this path of improvement. “But our First Nations people, some of them firmly believe that the impacts of your sector are significant.

“Let’s walk down a pathway together to either validate or dispel, to move forward based on facts of what’s happening in the ocean… We are pleased to sit down with the industry operating in our territories, their agencies such as the BCSFA to explore what it is that needs to be done to achieve a common ground and how we would all work together,” he said.
2019 has been declared the International Year of the Salmon.

Launched by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), the project sets out to protect salmon by bringing countries together to share knowledge, raise public awareness and take action.

An expedition aboard a Russian ship from Vladivostok to Dutch Harbor is one of the project's highlights.  Dr Dick Beamish, Emeritus Scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told participants Friday at the conclusion of Seafood West Summit 2018 in Campbell River, BC that the expedition could result in new research that will make the discoveries scientists need to actively forecast salmon abundance. “The expedition will make discoveries that will impact how we do salmon research in the future,” he said.

Beamish will be joined by 17 other scientists in the privately-funded exhibition.

An initiative designed to give local communities a powerful say in the sustainable development of the farmed salmon industry has been launched by the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

As part of the program, the association conducted a series of dialogues this past winter in partnership with the Headwaters Strategy Group, where community members voiced their support, their concerns and vision for the industry’s future. Those sentiments are captured in the newly launched website, www.sharing

“We realized early on that any success in developing greater literacy and awareness comes from the values in communities. What holds communities together has the prospect of creating common ground. We found a way to determine what those values are,” said Stewart Muir of Headwaters.

Through community engagement, Muir and colleague Vanessa Scott discovered that the people’s top three values were ecological sustainability and ocean stewardship; Science and academic research; and way of life continuity for future generations. The team also found that people recognize that the salmon aquaculture industry offers opportunities for advancing the cause of wild salmon. “We discovered that as we asked people if they will be part of our salmon protectors program they were more than willing to,” but “this is not what the public is hearing,” Muir said.

Everyone now has the opportunity to add their voice to the conversation and share their stories via the Sharing Salmon website and other social media channels. “We’re on Facebook, Twitter, we’re responding to the questions, building it brick by brick based on the values of the community. It will take more time, but we’re succeeding,”says Muir.

The Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) is not too happy about the news that circulated on Sunday and Monday in both mainstream and trade media (not this publication) about “new proof” that fish farm escapees interbreed with wild salmon. When Aquaculture North America approached NAIA executive director Mark Lane to comment on the story first published by CBC News, Lane blasted the CBC News for irresponsible journalism, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation for fear mongering. In response to our questions, Lane provided to us the following statement:

It was with great interest and concern that I read an article in the CBC News written by Leigh Ann Power, Host of the Central Morning Show in Newfoundland and Labrador, titled “New proof that fish farm escapees interbreed with wild salmon: DFO” dated September 23, 2018.

When I opened my browser I initially thought there was new research released that which I was unaware. At second glance though I realized that this was not “new news” but rather “old news” that was reported by the same media outlet in September 2016.

Let me be clear, as an industry we are concerned with any accidental escapes of farmed salmon into the environment. We invest millions of dollars to continually improve technology, innovation and farm practices to prevent escapes. To determine the interaction of escaped farm salmon on the environment we have fully collaborated with the researchers on this particular study and others conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) by providing fish and DNA material.

All suspected and confirmed escapes are reported to the regulatory authorities immediately; namely the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources (FLR) and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). At a recent Code of Containment Committee meeting, comprised of industry, regulatory agencies, salmon conservation groups and First Nations we voluntarily reduced the threshold of reporting from 100 fish to one.

At a recent Pan-Atlantic Code of Containment meeting held in New Brunswick, following a cross jurisdictional analysis, an independent consultant concluded that this province has one of the most prescriptive and thorough Codes of Containment in Canada. Even then we as an industry continually work with stakeholders to improve this Code based on facts, science, latest technology and evolution of the industry.

In today’s world of the Internet of Things content and reports from media travel far and wide quickly. The story written by Leigh Ann Power, Host of the Central Morning Show in Newfoundland and Labrador titled “New proof that fish farm escapees interbreed with wild salmon: DFO” dated September 23, 2018, is almost two years old; this exact study was first reported on September 21, 2016 by CBC reporter Mark Quinn.

There is absolutely nothing new or newsworthy in this article. This is simply a repeat of information, some of which is stated inaccurately by the DFO Scientist and Mr. Steve Sutton.

Not surprising, Steve Sutton of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) capitalized on this non-news-worthy story, knowing full well that this study is not new as he was also featured in the September 21, 2016 story by Mark Quinn. Mr. Sutton should be ashamed of himself by preying on the unsuspecting public, spewing his and his association’s rhetoric, mistruths and fear mongering.

There is a Journalist Code of Ethics that requires efforts to verify all facts for accuracy. According to the Canadian Association of Journalists, “Accuracy is the moral imperative of journalists and news organizations, and should not be compromised, even by pressing deadlines of the 24-hour news cycle”.

Fairness by respecting the rights of all people in the news is also identified as a pillar of the Code of Ethics. According to the Canadian Association of Journalists media must “…give people, companies or organizations that are publicly accused or criticized opportunity to respond before we publish those criticisms or accusations. [The media] must make a genuine and reasonable effort to contact them, and if they decline to comment, we say so”.

Prior to the release of CBC News story, no one from the news outlet reached out to industry for comment or to confirm this as “new proof.” For the record, I am always available by phone 709-689-8536, by email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.

I am not arguing that escapes and interbreeding is not of concern to industry; it absolutely is. Escapes should never happen. However, when they do or developments arise related to industry then industry should be consulted to ensure balance as a requirement of the Journalist Code of Ethics.

There are many developments in the aquaculture industry that are current and news worthy; the acquisition of the former Kiewit ship yard in Marystown that will see a dormant facility revitalized as an aquaculture service centre as well as the recently approved Grieg NL project; both will provide year round jobs to the Burin Peninsula. Just today it was announced that Akva Group is entering into a supply and sales contract with Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd, the marine based operations of Grieg NL. According to Intrafish “Under the contract, Akva group, through its wholly owned Canadian subsidiary Akva Group North America Inc, will become exclusive supplier of feed systems and feed barges up to 2026”. All of which are due to be built locally. As well last week, a $50-million private expansion was announced for the Northern Harvest Smolt hatchery in Stephenville resulting in 24 full time employment opportunities.

NAIA is celebrating 25 years and this week will host its largest Cold Harvest Conference and Trade Show in history with more than 400 international delegates and 50 exhibitors. There will be many current newsworthy stories that will develop over the next several days and we would love the opportunity to share with the media and their audiences. If media are interested in attending Cold Harvest 2018 complimentary media passes are available.

Cermaq says it has transferred smolt into its new closed containment system in Horsvågen, Norway, which features a strong and flexible fabric that “gives security against fish escape.”

The fabric, the Biobrane Aqua 2050, has been in the use by a salmon producer in Norway since 2014, but it is “new to us,” said Cermaq.

In this particular closed farming technology, “water will be pumped into the pen from 13 meters depth, preventing sea lice from entering the pen. The tarp wall is made of strong and flexible composite, which minimizes escape risk. This is the world’s largest closed cage using flexible walls,” it said. The closed containment system in Horsvågen has a production capacity of 400 tons.

“There are still a lot of things we don’t know about closed containment systems. We see that closed containment systems in the ocean can play an important role in the aquaculture industry in the future, but it still requires further development,” says Harald Takle, R&D Manager Farming Technology in Cermaq Group.
Aquaponics requires a significant amount of initial investment but it is also lucrative when done right. Green Relief of Flamborough, Ontario invested $12.5 million in the construction of its building and the state-of-the-art aquaponic system it houses. It was an essential investment that’s starting to pay off for the cannabis producer.

“We spent a lot of money upfront, but because we did that we actually, right away, got a very inexpensive cost of sale,” CEO Warren Bravo says. Green Relief’s cost of producing cannabis is currently at $1.42 per gram, and the average sale price is $9.05 cents per gram, according to Bravo.

A variety of factors can reduce production costs, including using LED lights, which saves to company between 35 to 40 percent on hydro bills. The company also does not use any outside inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides for its plants owing to the sustainability of the aquaponic system, i.e. nutrients from fish waste fertilize the crop, Bravo says.

Despite the expanding cannabis industry in Canada as legalization takes effect this October, Bravo believes consolidation will continue to take place and the market will calm down.

“There is going to be a reconciliation in the industry where the business is going to be like all other businesses,” he says. “You’ve got to have a low cost of goods sold and a very high quality product going out the door on a regular basis. If you can achieve that, I think you’ll be standing when the dust settles.”

Today, a big chunk of Green Relief’s capital goes into research and development. Earlier this year, the company has received its licence to produce and sell cannabis oil. The company has already spent $2 million building its extraction laboratory and upgrading its existing production systems.

While most licensed producers are seemingly in a race to get the lion’s share of the recreational cannabis market, the tilapia-growing cannabis producer is in no hurry to burst into this new market.

For now, it’s focused on continuously improving and providing its medical cannabis customers with the highest quality product, Bravo says. “It’s about helping people and improving the quality of life for our patients. There is so much more to do with the R&D and the science of what makes this plant so effective as medicine.”

He adds, however, that it’s not closing its doors to the recreational market.

“It will be foolish to say we’ll never take advantage of the rec market; we’ll see. It’s not in our plans right now, but I never say never,” he says.

The Canadian recreational marijuana market may not be high on Green Relief’s list of conquests at the moment, but the global market is. The company recently signed a joint venture deal with Swiss companies Ai Fame GmbH and Ai Lab Swiss AG to develop a new line of cannabis products that will be sold across Europe and Canada.

Green Relief is also cultivating another business opportunity with its aquaponics supplier Nelson and Pade. Bravo explains building an aquaponic system specifically for growing cannabis requires a great deal of customization to ensure all components are working as they should be. The result was an aquaponic system, developed with Nelson and Pade, that’s optimized for cannabis cultivation. Green Relief has acquired the rights to distribute the system across North America. Green Relief is also the exclusive distributor of Nelson and Pade aquaponic systems for vegetable growers in Canada.

Another business opportunity is swimming in Bravo’s mind.

“In the additional building that we just started we’re going to have 50,000 tilapia. There will always be a component of our fish being donated to charitable organizations, but what I would like to do with our fish is use our CO2 supercritical extraction technology to extract Omega 3 from our fish and blend them with cannabis oil extract and put out something new and different to the nutraceutical world,” Bravo says.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, has come out solidly behind Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd’s $250-million aquaculture project in the province, with Premier Dwight Ball announcing a $30-million government investment in the project.

The funding will be in the form of repayable loans.

Earlier this month, the project received final environmental approval, allowing construction to commence. Grieg NL aims to start operations in 2025.

While conservationists have expressed dismay over the government’s stake in an industry it’s supposed to be regulating, the executive director of the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, Mark Lane, says government investment in this case is no different than those in other sectors.

“If you look at oil and gas at its beginning 30 years ago in Newfoundland and Labrador, it took an equity investment from the provincial government to encourage people to come and try to produce oil here. Oil and gas is critical to Newfoundland and Labrador's economy today,” Lane tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).

“Those people who would tout that this is a conflict of interest, for the most part, are the same people who just simply don't support aquaculture,” he says.

Lane believes the province’s $30-million stake will return to the province in terms of jobs and taxes, and contribute to the GDP.  “And for every job that's created directly through the aquaculture project either on the farm or in the hatchery, there's two-and-a-half to three jobs in spin-off industries,” he says.

Grieg NL expects the project to create 440 direct jobs at the farm and its processing facilities as well as 380 jobs in related sectors.

The Placentia Bay project is believed to be the largest open net-pen salmon aquaculture development proposed in Canada but Lane stopped short of calling it a game-changer for the province as farmed salmon producer.

“I don't think it's a game changer. If you look at the companies we already have here -- Northern Harvest, Cooke Aquauculture, Cold Ocean Salmon and Marine Harvest through the acquisition of Northern Harvest -- they are already doing things right. They're doing it to the utmost standards that are found anywhere else in the world. I think Grieg's addition to what we're already doing in the province will get us closer to where we want to go, which is to double the salmon production in the province,” he says.

The province produces roughly 25,000 tonnes of farmed Atlantic salmon annually. “Grieg NL is a willing partner with the provincial Government in its strategy for advancing aquaculture with the goal of increasing salmon production to 50,000 metric tonnes annually, and doubling employment in an industry that is year-round and long-term,” the company said.
Aquaculture can grow by another $100 billion in less than a decade if three key challenges are addressed -- genetics, new husbandry technologies, and innovations in aquafeed, says Rabobank.

Citing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) biennial report, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, Rabobank says aquaculture production reached $232 billion in first-value sales in 2016, which represents a growth of $100 billion from 2010.

The Dutch bank believes that another $100 billion can be achieved in less than a decade through modernization and professionalization of aquaculture, “while maintaining a strong respect for the environment and local communities.”

“Switching to more technology-driven and efficient intensive farming technologies has enabled fish farmers to increase production in the last few years. Improved genetics, new husbandry technologies, and innovations in aquafeed will be the three key factors determining aquaculture’s future,” it said.
On August 31, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) released a report on the Live Gene Bank, a program designed to help prevent the extinction of Atlantic salmon in the inner Bay of Fundy. The report confirmed the presence of European farmed salmon genes in the area and touched off a conflict over who to blame for their presence.

Kent Smedbol, manager of the Popular Ecology division of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography with DFO Science, says that the report was based in part on a science advisory meeting held in 2017, which included external and internal experts, geneticists and stakeholder groups. Smedbol himself was chair of the meeting.

“It was very much a science meeting to evaluate a science program,” says Smedbol. “Are we doing the best job that we can? Are there things that have been learned in the interim during that 15-year period that could be brought to bear within our methodologies that we use and overall evaluation of the program?”

Smedbol says that the program examined the genotype of about 180 to 200 fish every year and would generally find evidence of European farmed salmon genes in around 15 of them. The study did not examine potential origins of European salmon in the area.

“It wasn’t an objective of this study,” says Jeff Cline, a DFO senior agriculture management officer in St. George, New Brunswick. “It was, ‘if introgression exists, are we doing a good job at minimizing it?’ The answer is yes.”

However, a comment in the supplemental text of the report listed aquaculture as a “likely” source. Smedbol says that was based on speculation by participants in the 2017 meeting.

“There were some people throughout with this idea that it was likely from farming, but there was no analysis done,” says Smedbol. “There were individuals at the meeting who may have voiced that opinion, but there’s no analysis done to confirm it.”

That addition to the supplemental text led the Atlantic Salmon Federation to release a statement early this September that called the revelations of the report “disturbing.”

Tom Smith, executive director of the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia, says that he is dismayed that his organization was not invited to take part in the process, and that aquaculture is being blamed without definitive proof.

“There’s nothing in the research that indicates that it is the likely source,” says Smith. “This is a commentary from the writers of the report that we find misleading, to be perfectly frank. The strain of salmon that we farm in Atlantic Canada is exclusively St. John River strain.”

As for other potential sources, Smith notes that European strains have been found in Newfoundland, and if they could make it as far as Newfoundland, why not to the Bay of Fundy? Smedbol also acknowledges that there are a host of potential explanations.

“It runs the whole gamut from strays all the way over from Europe to previous hybridization or escapees from other locations, like there are from farming,” says Smedbol. “There are a lot of potential options, but we didn’t evaluate any of them.”

Smith says if there are questions, he encourages DFO to visit hatcheries and farms and test their salmon stock.
Efforts to put the world's oceans on a pathway towards sustainability got a major boost this week with the announcement of two major initiatives.

CEOs of 10 of the largest seafood companies in the world behind the Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship (SeaBOS) initiative announced they will increase their efforts to strengthen sustainable practices in the seafood industry following their meeting in Japan this week.

They agreed to address key topics affecting ocean health and seafood sustainability, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and modern slavery, and they committed to improving transparency in reporting, to substantially reducing their use of antibiotics in aquaculture and plastic materials in their supply chains.

Members of SeaBOS include salmon farmers Marine Harvest ASA and Cermaq, aquafeed companies Skretting and Cargill Aqua Nutrition, and tuna fishers Thai Union Group PCL , Dongwon Industries and Kyokuyo.

Norwegian initiative

In Norway, the world’s richest government-owned investment fund has called on companies it invests into integrate ocean sustainability into their strategy.  

Oslo-based Norges Bank Investment Management, whose fund value reached a record $1-trillion last year, said many companies in its investment portfolio depend on the ocean as part of their business model.

It now requires them to integrate measures that will help to identify and minimize the impact of their activities on the ocean.  In the aquaculture industry, the fund has investments in Huon Aquaculture Group of Australia.

"The ocean is a vital part of the biosphere and an important part of the global economy," Yngve Slyngstad, NBIM's CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday. "We expect companies to manage the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable use of the ocean."
Measures proposed to lift the rate of employment in the aquaculture industry in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) by requiring employers to set hiring quotas are counterproductive and unfair, according to the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA).

Mark Lane, NAIA executive director, says the call by workers union FFAW-Unifor for the government to mandate aquaculture companies to employ a minimum number of workers and set a minimum number of weeks of employment is unreasonable. “If implemented, [it] will likely result in less investment and production in the industry that would keep people employed,” Lane tells Aquaculture North America (ANA).

The union, which represents workers in the fisheries, fish farming and processing industries, says the aquaculture industry “struggles to provide meaningful work” for its 150 processing workers in the community of Connaigre Peninsula in NL.  In a CBC News report the union proposes that aquaculture companies in the province be required to process their fish at local plants instead of New Brunswick, where it says much of the processing work is now being done.

Lane says the closure of two facilities owned by Barry Group in Harbour Breton on the Connaigre Peninsula was due to the downturn in the wild fishery.  “The recent downturn in processing in the province is no different than any other industry such as oil and gas, agriculture or traditional wild fisheries,” Lane tells ANA. He noted that the aquaculture industry has re-opened both facilities.  

But he acknowledged that lack of technology and equipment required for certain types of processing in NL facilities means these need to be done outside the province. “To my knowledge none of these plants can perform value-added processing such as portions or smoking. The plant in St Alban’s cannot do filleting.

“As well, for salmon in particular, current levels of technology do not allow for removal of pin bone pre-rigor in NL. Thus, to avoid unnecessary delays in transport and reduction in shelf life en route to market we process pre-rigor in NL, transport closer to the market and remove pin bones in New Brunswick. Having said that, every fish grown in NL is processed in NL,” he says.

He adds that the aquaculture industry has been “quite successful in keeping people employed in rural coastal NL year-round.”  About 450 people are directly employed on farms in NL, he says, including aquaculture technicians, veterinarians, managers, and divers. There are also more than 200 people employed in processing.

“For every job created on the farm there are three indirect employment opportunities created as a result, among them in retail, service, supply and transport. We are very proud of these accomplishments and the socio-economic contribution that we are making to rural communities.”

Like FFAW-Unifor, Lane is banking on the arrival of Marine Harvest in the province to expand NL’s aquaculture industry. In July, the Norwegian salmon producer finalized its acquisition of Canadian salmon farmer Northern Harvest Sea Farm (NHSF), which has 45 farming licenses in Newfoundland and New Brunswick.

Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) tells ANA that it is still developing its long-term plans to increase production on Canada’s south coast. “All salmon grown at NHSF operations in NL are prcessed to HOG and fillet stage on a contractual basis by the Barry Group,” says Jeremy Dunn, MHC Director, community relations and public affairs.

FFAW-Unifor says “the arrival of Marine Harvest in NL presents an opportunity to do things differently.  Not just economic viability, but an opportunity for responsible farming, meaningful jobs and respectful collective bargaining and labour relations.”

Lane says the entry of Marine Harvest, Grieg and expansion plans of Cooke Aquaculture will help the industry expand. “We are confident that employment opportunities will increase also accordingly.”

He says the industry is poised to meet the province’s growth target of 50,000 MT of finfish and 10,000 MT of shellfish by 2022. “This will eventually result in more long-term stable employment opportunities in additional communities around the province’s coast line and inland,” he says.

Lane concludes that “the best way to ensure long-term stable employment in aquaculture is to support the development of the industry across the province in both farming and support service sector.”

“This will create critical mass in production to keep people employed, but also open up new avenues of employment in servicing and supporting the industry,” he says.
Nordic Aquafarms' two major land-based farm projects in Belfast, Maine in the US and in Fredrikstad, Norway are forging ahead as planned, according to the company's chief executive, in light of news reports that one of its major vendors, Inter Aqua Advance (IAA), has filed for bankruptcy protection on August 29.

"We see no material effect on timelines from this (IAA bankruptcy filing) in Norway nor Maine," Nordic Aquafarms CEO Erik Heim told Aquaculture North America's sister publication, Hatchery International, adding his company had "no active delivery contracts with" IAA.

"We have a growing internal engineering department that increasingly is taking control of design and delivery," Heim said.

Several news sites have reported that IAA has filed for bankruptcy protection in an Arhus, Denmark, court last week. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Egaa, Denmark, IAA claims to be the first company in the world to develop and supply recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). It has since built more than 150 RAS facilities worldwide, according to the company's website.

Last April, Nordic Aquafarms announced a long-term strategic agreement with IAA to develop, design and deliver large RAS facilities for both land-based farm developments in Norway and the US. Construction of a new 1.6-million smolt facility in Fredrikstad was expected to start this year, while the 3.5-million smolt facility in Belfast, Maine, was planned for mid-2019.

According to Heim, these timelines will continue as planned.

"The important thing for us in this event has been to protect our IPR, as regulated in contracts. So, to sum it up, we are moving forward as planned. The consequence may be greater for some of (IAA's) other clients, but we have little information regarding the status of their other projects," he said.

Heim also hinted at an "exciting development" at his company that will be announced in the next few days. He did not provide any further details on this.

“I am going to tell you something that you already know intuitively, that aquaponics is helping to rebuild the US aquaculture industry,” Dr George B. Brooks Jr tells the audience at this year’s Aquaculture America conference.

Brooks is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Agriculture at Mesa Community College in Phoenix, Arizona and is actively involved in the evolution of urban agriculture and business development in the city.

Brooks noted that in the 1990s the US aquaculture industry was in serious trouble. There was an ageing workforce, difficulties in finding employees, a lack of new young entrants, a dearth of innovation and a reduction in extension programs. Then came the huge planes that enabled extensive low-cost imports, disrupting the business model for fish and seafood in the United States.

However, Brooks believes domestic production of fish and other species can recover in the US, and the market is huge. In a post on ‘The Aquaponic Gardening Community’ forum in November 2017, Brooks stated that “the United States currently only produces 10 percent of the seafood it eats,” producing about 500 million lbs of the 5 billion lbs that’s consumed annually. “For us to just increase that by 5 percent of the total would require an additional 250 million lbs of product,” he stated, which is “far from impossible.” He says “millions of dollars are now being devoted to reviving our industry. The only question is what role will aquaponics play?”

Brooks believes that it will play an important role across the nation, and shared many signs of progress during his Aquaculture America 2018 presentation. As an example, he pointed out that in Wisconsin, the number of aquaculture farms has recently jumped from 2,300 to 2,800, with 300 of the 500 new farms being aquaponics operations. In Brooks’ home city of Phoenix, large organizations like Vitalyst Health Foundation are actively supporting aquaponics and other types of urban farming because, he says, the products “can provide health, healthy neighbourhoods, healthy people.”

Municipal leaders, adds Brooks, in cities like Phoenix and Boston, so badly want urban agriculture that “we are now able with new techniques to bring this directly into the city, whether that’s a community garden, urban farm or a vertical garden…Everyone can have a farm, whether it’s in your backyard or an urban space that couldn’t become anything else.”

An aquaponics demonstration project proposal was recently put before Phoenix city council, and the ​Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs was recently awarded a $400,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to remove hazardous substances from brownfield properties and to redevelop them in ways that improve public health, including aquaponics, hydroponics, controlled environment, community and school gardens. In Phoenix as well, Mesa Community College has a ‘Center for Urban Agriculture,’ which promotes “healthy eating and living through sustainable urban agriculture, aquaponics, and local food production.” Brooks says his aquaponics courses are overbooked.

At the same time progress is being made, much remains to be accomplished for aquaponics and aquaculture in Brooks’ home state and beyond. “In Arizona,” he says, “we are seeing increasing new farms, farmers of all ages, an institutional desire to support these farms and successful training programs, but we need new system designs, a processing hub, new species, we need an experimental station, and we need more access to capital.”
Marine scientists are warning the aquaculture community about the rise of so-called predatory journals, scientific research papers that are not peer-reviewed, have questionable quality and are freely available on the internet.

In their paper Predator in the Pool? A Quantitative Evaluation of Non-indexed Open Access Journals in Aquaculture Research, marine ecologists Jeff C. Clements, Rémi M. Daigle and Halley E. Froehlich said predatory journals can pose a threat to aquaculture if policy makers rely on them.

“Policy makers, managers, fish farmers, and the general public rely on sound and reliable science for a successful and sustainable aquaculture industry”, says Clements, a visiting post-doctoral fellow with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.  “If they aren’t trained to properly recognize good science from bad science, they run the risk of interpreting predatory open access journals as high-quality scientific journals.”

Such journals get published in dubious online publications that charge academic authors prohibitive fees. The researchers found that predatory journals were more likely to be found during a Google search.
“This is concerning given the public perception of aquaculture is often negative, despite research showing positive benefits too,” Clements said.

He believes that open access publishing is a benefit to aquaculture science—and indeed all of science—but that it is important to understand that some scientific information may not necessarily be correct or factual.

“Science communication, like any form of communication, is a two-way street: readers need to be aware that not all science is created equally and that some science is flawed; at the same time, scientists need to connect with a broad audience to quell some of the misinformation that exists in scientific literature.”

How to identify predatory journals

Awareness and recognition is key to identifying and avoiding predatory open access aquaculture journals. To recognize whether or not a scientific journal may not be legitimate, here are some tips:

•    Readers should be wary of aquaculture journals that were established after 2010, publish less than 20 papers per year, and publish articles rapidly (less than 80 days after submission)

•    If a journal is deemed suspicious based on those criteria, the reader should then go online and search for the name of the journal in the Directory of Open Access Journals (

•    If the journal shows up in that database, it is good, but if it doesn't show up in that database, it should be read with caution

•    For interpreting science, non-scientists should seek the advice of trained scientists
Superior First has become the first land-based aquaculture and aquaponics facility to bag a Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) awards BAP certification on environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture companies.

Superior Fresh fish are fed a specially formulated diet free of hormones and antibiotics, said the GAA in the August announcement.  The fish produce ammonia and solids, and the solids are broken down from ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates, making nutrients available for plant uptake. The nutrient-rich water is then pumped into the greenhouse for the leafy greens, which use the nutrients and, in turn, clean the water. The clean water is then pumped back into the aquaculture system.

“We are proud to be a part of the BAP program. Our personal standards and morals related to how we farm are backed up by a strong stamp that truly helps consumers understand that we are doing everything possible to raise healthy, safe and sustainable food,” said Superior Fresh President Brandon Gottsacker.

The BAP achievement is another first for the Wisconsin-based company.  In July, it achieved a milestone when its harvest of Atlantic salmon raised inland hit the US retail market for the first time.

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