Aquaculture North America

Sustainable Blue loses 100,000 salmon due to system failure

November 29, 2023
By Aquaculture North America staff

The water from tanks growing Atlantic salmon is completely recirculated, producing zero discharge back into the ocean. The company calls it zRAS. (Photo: Sustainable Blue)

Nova Scotian land-based salmon producer Sustainable Blue has lost 100,000 fish in November which will create a seven-month production lag for the company.

According to a report by IntraFish, on Nov. 4, the company said the biological filter collapsed in one of its six production buildings containing about 20 per cent of the 500,000 fish on site. The incident occurred in the newest production building which was completed in April 2022.

Sustainable Blue CEO Kirk Havercroft told IntraFish the company’s biggest customer is Canadian retailer, Sobey’s. “We’ve had a constructive dialogue with them,” he told IntraFish, adding the fish lost were Sustainable Blue’s largest at between 2-4 kilos.

The cause of the incident is under investigation and Havercroft said the issue is an “isolated incident,” a construction failure and not one of technology performance.

The remainder of the company’s land-based facility is fully functional and commercially operational, he added. “What we now see is it looks like the structural collapse occurred in the carbon dioxide stripper,” he said. “The purpose of that piece of equipment is to remove CO2 that fish put into water as they naturally respirate.”

Once the cause has been identified, they’ll begin rebuilding the biological filter. “What we can see from other fish coming through, we need to have this CO2 stripper repaired, back in place and the building back online by early March,” he said. “Then the fish will be able to transition back into the building. Then we can move forward to fill the seven-month production gap.”

Prior to the incident, Havercroft said the company was harvesting about 20,000 pounds, or about nine metric tons, of whole round fish every week.

“We were forecasting a gradual increase all the way to Q1 of 2024,” he said, noting the facility was expected to reach maximum production of 40,000 pounds per week.

Havercroft said the company plans to be back online in March and that is not halting any plans to move forward in Washington state with a similar land-based facility.

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