Trout farmer to upgrade ops with RAS, genetics program
By Liza Mayer
Technology can certainly improve operations and output, but taking a cue from salmon farmers, one Eastern Canadian trout farm company is looking to reduce risk and improve its product through a combination of new tech and a new breeding program.
Ocean Trout Canada produces farmed trout with hatchery operations in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Both locations produce juvenile fish for its farm site in Nova Scotia. While CEO Cameron McDonald says the company’s operations are “fairly low tech,” it is looking to upgrade hatchery facilities with a new generation of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). It has also laid the groundwork for a genetics program with the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in New Brunswick in 2021.
McDonald says the plan is to develop a broodstock program for Atlantic Canada and look at breeding programs to optimize performance.
“We want to improve overall growth performance, speed, quality and focus on those traits that work best in Atlantic Canada and develop strains optimized to that environment,” he says. “It’s planning for the future. It’s what made the salmon industry successful in terms of optimizing the genetic performance of the animals for both growth characteristics but also consistency so that you can reduce risk by avoiding irregularities in your growth plans.”
McDonald says using artificial intelligence for monitoring will “make absolute sense” for Ocean Trout Canada when it comes to scaling up operations for cage monitoring and other applications.