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

Coroner’s report confirms suicide in Kilmer case

2018 disappearance sparked massive search

Province to pay for Lake Cowichan youngster’s medical treatment

Lake Cowichan toddler only one in B.C. diagnosed with CLN2 Batten disease

Drivesmart column: Headlights and aftermarket fraudulent compliance markings

The “LED bulbs” now flooding the market are not a legitimate, safe, effective, or legal product.

North Cowichan councillor wants more regional control of B.C.’s forests

North Cowichan councillor wants recommendation sent to UBCM

Graduating Cowichan Secondary School student gets $5,000 towards new car

Jared Lammi attended more than 80 per cent of classes this year

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Coming up in Cowichan: Spend Father’s Day fishing, or head to the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Deadline coming to register for class reunion The Cowichan Secondary Class of… Continue reading

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read