Land-based salmon farming workshop brings farmers together

Farming salmon on land is possible, but is currently a risky proposition only suitable for niche markets, salmon farmers heard this week

Farming salmon on land is possible, but is currently a risky proposition only suitable for niche markets, salmon farmers heard this week.

Tides Canada and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation sponsored a two-day Aquaculture Innovation Workshop at Painters Lodge Monday and Tuesday. The workshop was attended by about 75 people, many from local salmon farming and supply businesses. A lot of the discussions were about Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) technology, which Campbell River-based salmon farming companies use to grow salmon from egg to smolt size in land-based hatcheries before transferring the fish to the ocean. The workshop featured researchers and experimenters in the aquaculture field and speakers provided insights into several closed-containment aquaculture experiments happening around the world.

Thue Holm, the CEO of Atlantic Sapphire AS, is currently working on developing a facility in Denmark capable of farming 1,000 metric tonnes of salmon on land. However, he offered some words of caution.

“It’s a niche product,” he said, pointing out that a small-scale facility such as his can’t compete directly with the main farmed salmon market.

Finding a specialized market for his product, as well as selling it at premium pricing, is important, he said.

Location is also crucial, said Steven Summerfelt, director of aquaculture systems research for the Freshwater Institute in West Virginia. Summerfelt spoke at the workshop about several projects he is involved with, including a planned land farm site in Washington State which can buy electricity for only two or three cents per kilowatt-hour (BC Hydro’s business rates are closer to 9 cents per kilowatt-hour).

Summerfelt said farming Atlantic salmon on land has potential “if you can pick sites with cheap power right next to the market.”

In order for land-based salmon farms to be profitable, he said, they have to farm fish at much higher densities than ocean net pens. Conventional net pen systems farm fish at a density of about 15 kilograms of fish per cubic metre at their peak size. In order for a land-based farm to be profitable, it would have to farm fish at densities close to 80 kilograms per cubic metre or even higher, he said.

However, he added, experiments are showing farming fish at high densities is possible, under heavily controlled conditions.

Researchers and experimenters also talked about the high costs of building land-based aquaculture facilities and the high risk to investors. Most of the projects discussed depend heavily on research grants and have low returns on investment.

However, one project underway in Central Canada is taking a different approach. Daniel Stechey, with Canadian Aquaculture Systems, spoke about a project which could help hog and horse farmers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Because of the downturn in the hog industry and pregnant mare urine (used in human hormone replacement therapy) industry, there are nearly a thousand barns sitting empty, he said, so why not convert them to farm rainbow trout?

His company has retrofitted one barn to farm about 130 tonnes of trout. It works, even in the region’s cold weather, and can make modest profits given that a farmer already has a barn structure ready to be converted.

Guests at the workshop also had the opportunity to tour Agrimarine’s solid-wall containment system at Middle Bay, north of Campbell River.

Grant Warkentin is Communications Officer with Mainstream Canada.

Just Posted

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

City of Campbell River transit to get some infrastructure help next year

Hint: It’s a bus pullout on Dogwood at Carihi and doubling the rate of bus shelter installation

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Campbell River School District calls for report on buses and seat-belts

Parents have questions following expose on research around buses and safety

New wind warning for most of Vancouver Island

Forecasters are calling for strong winds up to 90km/h for some areas

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read