Cermaq provided this photo of its experimental fish farming system in the waters of northern Norway. The structure in the foreground uses a tarp-like barrier to enclose it from the marine environment, according to the company.

Experimental ‘closed-containment’ fish farm coming to Canadian waters, Cermaq says

Atlantic salmon ‘thriving’ in research facility in Norwegian Sea, says aquaculture company

Cermaq, a major aquaculture company, is hailing an experimental “closed containment” facility in Norwegian waters as a safer mode of fish farming, saying that it reduces interactions with the marine habitat.

A similar system could be introduced to Canadian waters by next year, according to David Kiemele, managing director for Cermaq Canada.

“We’re aiming to actually launch a trial of our own, ideally in 2020, where we will hold a certain group of fish in a cage of this same design, straight through until harvest,” Kiemele said in an interview with Black Press.

He said that a barrier surrounding the net “limits potential interactions between our fish and the environment outside,” although he acknowledged that the experimental facility isn’t completely closed.

Seawater is pumped through the system from a depth of about 13 metres, he said.

“When you’re talking about parasites like sea lice and whatnot, very rarely do you find them down that deep in the water column,” Kiemele said.

READ MORE: Federal officials showcase ‘health audit’ at fish farm northeast of Campbell River

Cermaq also said in a media release that the structure provides protection from predators and fish escapes.

Fish at the research facility, located north of the Arctic circle in the Norwegian Sea, were stocked three months ago and “are adapting well,” according to Cermaq.

The Atlantic salmon “are actually growing better (than) our fish in the traditional net pen structures located in the same region,” with fish experiencing low mortality and “no problems with sea lice,” according to Kjell Hansen, a company official cited in the media release.

The experimental process doesn’t eliminate open-net pens entirely – the fish from the Norwegian site will be finished in an ordinary farm. After they reach about 2 kg in size, they will be moved to a “traditional net-pen environment,” Kiemele said.

READ MORE: B.C. salmon farm agreement a milestone for Indigenous rights

But Cermaq Canada intends to bring fish to harvest in the new system – avoiding open-net pens completely – when the experimental technology is introduced here, according to Kiemele.

He said the company has begun discussions with provincial and federal regulators to gain approval for the system. Cermaq expects to have it fully operational in Canadian waters 12 months after internal and external approvals are complete, Kiemele said.

The system would either be built in Norway and shipped across, or the company would find a local supplier, he said.

The system involves a conventional net – used for handling the fish – enclosed by a heavy tarp-like material that Kiemele likened to Kevlar.

“It needs to be engineered to withstand the energy and the forces that we’d expect to see on our sea sites,” including ocean currents and storm surges, he said.

The composite material was developed by the French company Serge Ferrari, he said.

Asked why the experimental pens are ocean-based – industry critics have called for fish farms to be removed from the sea entirely – Kiemele said that fish farming would require “a large amount of land” that could be used for other activities, including agriculture.

READ MORE: Trapped humpback whale freed from salmon farm near Tofino

He also said that a land-based facility would consume large amounts of water and energy for pumping.

“From a practical and economical sense, at the moment it just doesn’t stack up,” he said, adding that the company could also continue to use its ocean-based leases this way.

Cermaq Canada, which is based in Campbell River, is a subsidiary of the Oslo-based Cermaq Group. The Norwegian multinational, in turn, is a fully-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vandals break windows in Port Alberni heritage train cars

Damage in the thousands of dollars, says Industrial Heritage Society

Fire destroys mysterious travel trailer in Port Alberni alley

Port Alberni Fire Dept. security cameras capture start of fire

Port Alberni wants to bring back bed races for annual Salmon Fest

Veteran racer recalls thrill of racing a handcrafted bed through city streets

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Port Alberni city council reveals 2019-2023 strategic plan

Strategies include revitalization, truck route, public safety

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read