Cermaq says it is raising its fish according to the recommendations of Fishwell, a research project that has come up with a tool for farmers to help them assess the welfare of farmed salmon in various production systems.

Examples of welfare indicators include appetite, the fishes’ behaviour, physiological status, gill condition, fin damage, skeletal status, temperature, and water flow rate.

Cermaq says it has used FishWell’s recommendations to enhance fish welfare throughout its operations. “Cermaq wants its fish to thrive, grow and be healthy. A fish with good welfare is healthier, performs better and ultimately has better quality, which is essential for the productivity and sustainability of Cermaq’s farming operations,” the salmon and trout farmer said in announcing its new fish welfare policy.

The company believes however that individualized farming, where fish are monitored and treated individually, will be the “real change maker” in aquaculture. It is developing a technology, called iFarm, to achieve this goal.

“iFarm, when developed, can measure the external fish health and welfare parameters presented in FishWell. By sorting and treating individual fish, the welfare for all fish in the pen will increase and mortality rates will be dramatically reduced,” says Cermaq R&D Director Olai Einen.

The FishWell project is a collaboration between the food research institute Nofima, the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Nord University in Bodø and the University of Stirling in the UK and the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund. The 328-page manual was scheduled for publication this August/September.

Grieg Seafood announced that total operating income jumped double digits in the second quarter, while also lowering its harvest outlook for the whole year.

The Norwegian salmon farmer’s total operating income in Q2 2018 amounted to NOK 2.3 billion ($278 million), up 14 percent compared to the same period last year. This despite production at its Rogaland and British Columbia sites being impacted by pancreas disease and algal bloom, respectively.

It expects harvest of 75,000 tonnes in 2018, up 20 percent from 2017 figure but lower by 5,000 tonnes of the initial guidance for the year because of the Rogaland and BC issues in June.

Grieg remains committed to increasing production by at least 10 percent annually until 2020; it aims to harvest 100,000 tonnes that year.

Furthermore, the company aims to achieve production cost “at or below the industry average.” “Increased volumes, improved capacity utilization and shorter production time in sea will contribute to higher efficiency and reduced production costs. The Group also continually undertakes cost-reducing initiatives and has established an internal improvement program, scheduled to run until 2020,” it said.

It believes “continued access to high-quality smolt is critical to ensure future growth.” “Larger smolt will result in shorter production time in sea, thus contributing to reduced biological risk and increased survival.”

Things are falling into place for Ontario, allowing the province’s freshwater aquaculture to grow in recent years.

Rich Moccia, professor and director, Aquaculture Centre, at The University of Guelph said the province has easy access to very large and affluent markets and has a diversified population base, among them large groups of new Canadians that arrived in the last generation. These create demand for new and different types of aquaculture products, he told the audience at Aquaculture Canada 2018.

"We’re at a tipping point where we’re having enough production to be able to go after some of the larger marketplaces, like Costco and Wal-Mart," says Moccia.

He also noted Ontario’s very strong infrastructure capacity, making it very well positioned to support aquaculture development. Processing infrastructure has also benefitted from industry consolidation in recent years with new private sector investors purchasing some existing farms and upgrading them, he said.

More on Ontario’s robust aquaculture industry in Aquaculture North America’s September/October 2018 issue.

More than 19 million people around the world are employed in aquaculture, with women accounting for an estimated 14 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) biennial report, “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.”

Looking at employment in capture fisheries and aquaculture as a whole, the proportion of those employed in aquaculture increased from 17 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 2016. The figures reflect aquaculture's robust growth and crucial role in feeding the world’s population. In contrast, the proportion of those employed in capture fisheries declined from 83 percent in 1990 to 68 percent in 2016.

Fish farmers totalled 19.27 million in 2016, up 4.1 percent from 18.51 million in 2010, according to the report. In North America, there were 9 million fish farmers in 2016, unchanged since 2010. Employment in aquaculture was concentrated primarily in Asia (96 percent of all aquaculture engagement), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. The report defines employment as full-time, part-time or occasional basis.
American retail giant Target Corp has resumed selling farmed salmon after eliminating it from its offerings in 2010.

The retailer has since then sold only wild-caught Alaskan salmon. But this week, it announced that it brought back farmed salmon in its stores since last year, saying that farmed salmon could still be sustainable.

It is selling farmed salmon certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. "Currently it is the only major eco-certification for farmed salmon that has been benchmarked to perform to at least a Yellow Seafood Watch equivalency and now meets our sustainable seafood policy,” it said. More on the story here.
Increasing awareness of the health benefits of seafood has driven consumption in recent years and the trend is likely to continue, according to a market research firm.

Transparency Market Research says the global seafood market is likely to grow at a steady pace as global population is making a lifestyle change.

“Changing lifestyles is the biggest contributor to the global seafood market. Analysts state that the growing awareness about proteins present in the wide variety of seafood is expected to drive the global seafood market. Today, the seafood market has progressed to farmed fishes or aquaculture to meet the exponentially growing demand,” the company said in the report, Seafood market – Global Forecast, Market Share, Trends, Size, Growth and Industry Analysis 2016 – 2023.

Consumer awareness of the advantages of seafood such as being rich in protein and an excellent source of Omega-3 has boosted seafood consumption in recent years, it added.

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.

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