Aerial view of the Noo-la fish farm. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Grieg Seafood invests $2.1 million in ‘feed house’ northwest of Campbell River

Aquaculture executive says he’s confident about industry amid new regulations

A major aquaculture company says that a new investment at one of its operations northwest of Campbell River is proof that the industry has a future in B.C.’s coastal waters at a time when fish farming is coming under increased scrutiny.

Grieg Seafood BC showed the Mirror around a new barge at its Noo-la fish farm in Clio Channel during an Oct. 26 tour. The barge – which includes accommodations for workers and various industrial aquaculture facilities – is the second built by the company in as many years.

“We’ve just built two $2 million feed barges,” said Rocky Boschman, managing director of Grieg Seafood BC, which is part of the Norwegian multinational Grieg Group. “We do that because we believe there’s a place for us here on a long term.”

READ MORE: First Nations, conservationists and industry react to fish farm regulations

The barge includes a remote feeding system with underwater video cameras that allow technicians to observe fish behavior and adjust the flow of food accordingly.

“Fish, when they’re not hungry, they tend to school,” Boschman said, pointing to a screen that showed hundreds of fish moving in a chaotic pattern. “Those fish are all hunting.”

Environmental monitoring manager Bogdan Vornicu also noted that microscopes on the Noo-la barge are connected to the Internet, so that biologists can examine samples of materials such as plankton remotely.

The company is trying to position itself as a leader in “precision farming,” with instruments tracking oxygen levels in the water and other data, said Boschman. The goal is to predict ocean dynamics.

“[The sensors] are all feeding into a common database,” he said.

Boschman hailed the barge as an example of aquaculture investing in local business. He produced a list of some 22 vendors from the Campbell River area involved in the project, ranging from building contractors to high-tech firms to office services.

“Everywhere possible, we utilize local companies,” he said.

The residential area of the barge includes 12 bedrooms and a shared living area featuring an open-concept kitchen, fireplace and big-screen television.

READ MORE: Retired DFO scientist plans wild salmon research expedition

Workers at the facility – who spend eight days on-site before returning to their homes for six days – seemed impressed with the new accommodations.

“It’s like a resort coming out here,” said one worker, a Campbell River resident in his 20s who declined to provide his name for privacy reasons.

The company was showcasing its investments as the provincial government imposes new regulations on a controversial industry.

Starting in 2022, fish farm operators must have the consent of First Nations whose territories they’re operating in. The Grieg facilities in Clio Channel are the result of a partnership with Tlowitsis Nation, whose traditional territories include waters in the Georgia Strait from Telegraph Cove to just west of Sayward.

Boschman said the aquaculture industry is working hard to develop positive relationships with First Nations, although he said that formal agreements aren’t in place for all Grieg operations.

“We absolutely recognize that they are the right holders,” he said. “We look forward to learning and growing and making these relationships even stronger.”

John Smith, the elected chief of Tlowitsis Nation, said that rental fees and revenue from fish harvests provide a stable source of funds for the community.

“We’re very pleased with the agreement,” he said, saying the partnership with Grieg is positive. “They do a lot to make our relationship strong and happy.”

Smith said the operation has the support of hereditary chiefs from his community, although he acknowledged that some band members oppose fish farms.

READ MORE: B.C. municipalities call for shift to closed-containment fish farms

Also under the new regulations, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will have to vouch that fish farm operators aren’t harming wild salmon.

Critics of the industry have said that fish farms discharge harmful materials into the ocean, spread sea lice and disease among wild fish, and allow Atlantic salmon to escape, posing risks to wild stocks.

And while Boschman objected to the claims of environmentalists who want fish farms removed from B.C. waters, he said the company is also trying to reduce its ecological impact and avoid harming wild fish.

“Grieg Seafood has a responsibility to do this in a way that does not damage wild salmon,” he said.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A worker observes farmed salmon using underwater cameras while distributing fish food via a computerized system at the Noo-la fish farm in Clio Channel. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Grieg Seafood BC environmental monitoring manager Bogdan Vornicu demonstrates an Internet-equipped microscope at the Noo-la fish farm. The system allow scientists to examine samples remotely. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Rocky Boschman, managing director of Grieg Seafood BC, in front of a newly built feed barge at the Noo-la fish farm in Clio Channel. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

A Grieg fish farm worker in the storage area of the Noo-la fish farm. Several weeks worth of fish food is stacked on pallets. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Workers in the living quarters at the Noo-la fish farm in Clio Channel. Photo David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Busy day for Campbell River fire crews

Three incidents in rapid succession keep crews on their toes

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

NEW CUTLINE Payphone use is declining dramatically. (Black Press Files)

This payphone sits just east of TD Bank in Parksville, on Harrison Avenue. (Emily Vance photo)
Last call approaches for Vancouver Island payphones?

Some payphones don’t get used for days as mobile phones diminishing need

Garden centre manager Jack Olszewski and Chris Beaudoin say business has grown by 50 per cent at the Sooke Home Hardware Store. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
Flower power: COVID restrictions fuel bloom boom on Vancouver Island’

More people seeking flowers to add colour, says Sooke landscaper

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Most Read