ASF promoting land-based salmon farming

Clayton Hunt
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Holds workshop on important topic

Atlantic salmon grown in a closed containment facility at the Freshwater Institute.
— Photo submitted by Freshwater Institute

The Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF), in its ongoing quest to promote and encourage land-based salmon farming hosted the East Coast land-based closed cContainment aquaculture workshop in St. Andrews, N.B. on Oct. 10-11.

Bill Taylor, president of the ASF, said that industry representatives from North America and Europe attended the workshop. In addition, provincial and federal government officials from Canada, state and federal government representatives from the United Sates and environmentalists from Canada, the United States and Europe also participated in the conference.

“We drew some of the best and most experienced speakers, scientists, researchers and aquaculture folks that are familiar with this relatively new technology,’’ Taylor said.

“We wanted to share positive experiences and begin to, hopefully, see a transition from current open-net pen aquaculture, with all of its inherent problems, to the much more environmentally sustainable friendly land-based close containment systems for raising salmon.”


How salmon are raised at sea

In the current industry, Atlantic salmon are raised in open net-pens that are in direct contact with the ocean, which leads to the potential of severe environmental impacts and production losses.

Concerns about environmental impacts include the incubation, amplification and transmission of disease and parasites from farmed salmon to wild salmon; the discharge of waste, pesticides, antibiotics and further pollutants directly into the marine environment and the escape of non-indigenous fish species.

These environmental impacts are acknowledged in the 2012 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel Report “Sustaining Canada’s Marine Biodiversity: Responding to the Challenges Posed by Climate Change, Fisheries, and Aquaculture.”

Examples of the production risks involved with open net-pen salmon farming are the economic losses associated with escaped fish; diseases like infectious salmon anemia (ISA) and infectious Hematopoietic necrosis (IHN); and parasite outbreaks such as sea lice.

Taylor said that many of the arguments that companies use to say that land-based aquaculture can’t or won’t work are simply myths.

“The arguments made by companies against land-based operations are based on very old technologies,’’ he said.

“For example, 99.8 per cent of the water used in land-based systems today is recirculated and the only water loss is through evaporation. In land-based operations you eliminate any possibility of farm salmon escaping into the wild so you end the threat to wild salmon and other species.”

“You can control the environment in land-based operations so you don’t have to use any pesticides or harsh chemicals or antibiotics which actually reduces the cost considerably for the operators.

“The fact is that the technology exists today to make land-based operations commercially viable and environmentally friendly.

As a matter of fact, we’re starting to see land-based operations grow beyond small-scale research projects into larger commercial ventures.

“Some far-sighted aquaculturists are getting involved in these systems and are making money at it. Progress is being made and I would say that, over the course of the next several years, we’re going to see more land-based closed containment operations for raising salmon come on line.”


Sustainable Blue

One of those far-sighted companies that Taylor is referring to is Sustainable Blue, a company in Nova Scotia that has been raising Mediterranean sea bass and bream on land and will start to raise salmon on land in November of this year.

Kirk Havercroft, the CEO of Sustainable Blue, said that the company would be producing 350 metric tonnes of salmon annually once the operation is in place.

“Technology plays a critical role in the viability of the performance of a land-based system. When the technology is sub-standard or under-performing, then the energy footprint is likely to be high because under performing technologies in land-based aquaculture tend to produce slow growth rates in fish,’’ Havercroft said.

“The overall output of the farm is limited and therefore the energy footprint per pound of fish is quite high. We believe we are a global-leading technology in this land-based system of raising fish.”

“Our technology is extremely high and therefore we use energy as well as our other resources extremely efficiently”

Havercroft said his company could produce Mediterranean Sea bass and bream at much faster rates than the species could be raised in the sea and that they can achieve similar growth rates with Atlantic salmon.

“We should be able to grow a salmon from a 100 gram smolt to processing size in about 12 months.

“Our land-based environment creates a constant environment. We don’t have winter temperatures to contend with here and the temperature is constant 365 days a year.

“When you combine our optimum water temperature with our optimum water quality, you create an environment where a fish can make the best of its natural ability.”

The CEO said that the company’s facility is a 100 per cent recirculation system and the only water they lose is through evaporation and spillage.


The Future?

Taylor said that there are a number of companies such as Palom Aquaculture in Maine and the Namgis First Nation on Vancouver Island who are looking at raising Atlantic salmon on land.

“This is starting to happen,” Taylor said, ‘and will continue to grow. When you have closed containment land-based facilities to raise fish you absolutely control 100 per cent of an optimum environment to raise fish.

“Wherever you look at open net pen aquaculture in big concentrations whether it’s in the Bay of Fundy, on the south coast of Newfoundland. on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia or in Norway or Scotland, wild salmon populations are in serious trouble.”

“We hope to continue working with industry players in promoting land-based operations and to help them move in this direction.”


The Coaster

Organizations: Atlantic Salmon Federation

Geographic location: Canada, Europe, East Coast North America United States Nova Scotia Mediterranean Sea Maine Bay of Fundy Newfoundland Norway Scotland

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Recent comments

  • Wild Salar
    September 26, 2013 - 18:39

    ASF is making this new industrial inland aquaculture idea sound pretty good, however they have no idea of the impact on the freshwater resources this may have. ASF were strong promoters of the of sea cage culture in not very long ago until they stopped making money of the industry now they are saying they made a mistake. How can we trust them from making another one which could pollute our freshwater resources and use massive quantities of ground water. ASF are coming across like they know what is best just like the scientist who managed our east coast fishery . My vote is no thanks ASF to this latest idea, just like I was against their Atlantic Salmon interbreeding program they carried out into the Bay Of Fundy in the 70's and 80's that released hundreds of thousands if not millions of smolt from all different genetic crosses. By the way this was a failure also. Sincerely, Wild Salar

  • Petertwo
    November 03, 2012 - 05:59

    Roy, you might help yourself if you did some research of your own, there's loads on the net. It is anglers fishing for salmon that are slowly bringing back the salmon and the ASF is in the front line. Think about it, if live release was not sucessful no angler would tolerate it, without the salmon there would be no salmon angling. There is still commercial salmon fishing in the North Atlantic and the stocks are not recovering as well as they should, plus the human competition with then for food, shrimp, herring etc., The seas are slowly dying with all the overfishing.

  • Casey
    November 02, 2012 - 17:29

    The ASF is full of it. The waters around NL have been teeming with Atlantic Salmon for the last 10 summers. Go to The NE coast and find out for yourself. Just because salmon don't go up the rivers in large numbers every season does not mean the stocks are low. Allow a limited commercial fishery and the market will have its share of clean, wild salmon, and the outport people will get a chance to make a living once again. A living that was ripped away from them for a pittance by the way. It is time for those so called conservationist groups to tell the whole story and stop trying to destroy outport NL..

  • Chantal
    November 01, 2012 - 10:20

    land-based salmon? I wonder how that would taste.

    • Sustainable supporter
      November 01, 2012 - 20:04

      It would taste as good or better than open net (ocean based) farmed salmon - without the chemicals, parasites, and disease that occur in oceans based environments. In the long run, cheaper to produce as well.

  • roy
    November 01, 2012 - 09:05

    In my humble opinion the Salmon Federation is full of "it". They promote salmon poaching in what they call "catch and relrase". when the majority of catch and release fisher person use this to high grade or only keep the size they want. They call it fun to hook a salmon and play it out till it is unlikely to survive. They only fish the best parts of the river and will force any other fisherperson out of that area. When i fish for cod i am required to keep any size and not throw any back. and only keep 5 fish per day i am sure there are more cod in the ocean than salmon. Like i said the salmon federation are full of "it".

    • Yer full of something
      November 01, 2012 - 20:10

      Either you are deliberately trying to mislead or you're just plain ignorant. Studies show that almost 100% of salmon angled through hook and release not only survive but spawn. Most catch and release anglers that I know don't fish anywhere near the most popular pools and even if they did, so what? Everyone has an equal right to fish where regulations permit and nobody can ''force'' another angler off a pool. Salmon angling is a sport. If you want meat, get it at the fish market. Your way of thinking is backwards and thankfully, only embraced by the few that are desperately clinging to practices used in days when salmon stocks were actually healthy.