VICTORIA, BC - Feb. 12, 2020 - On Sunday, Feb. 9, Canada’s most technologically advanced aquaculture wellboat docked in Victoria after a long journey from Norway.
Grieg Seafood’s newest vessel, the Ronja Islander, completed construction in Norway in late 2019, and was custom built by Sølvtrans to address some of BC’s salmon farming challenges, including sea lice and safe fish handling during live transfers to farms.
“We designed the Ronja Islander using input from our stakeholders and Indigenous partners. We heard some of their concerns around salmon farming in BC and turned those concerns into solutions when we built the vessel,” says Dean Trethewey, Seawater Production Director at Grieg Seafood BC who led the wellboat project.
“The transfer of sea lice from wild fish to farmed fish is an ongoing issue for our industry and for British Columbians who are concerned for wild salmon migrating by our farms, and this wellboat is here to help with that. In addition to its state-of-the-art removal treatments for sea lice, the process features 100% capture of the detached lice which will be disposed on land.
This is important to us and to wild salmon.” The vessel’s arrival comes on the heels of last week’s announcement out of Norway that Greig BC’s parent company, Grieg Seafood ASA, is growing its Canadian operations to now include the province of Newfoundland & Labrador.
“It’s exciting to see Grieg Seafood ASA investing in both the west and east coasts of Canada, with this wellboat the latest investment in our BC operations,” says Trethewey. “This just shows how confident Grieg Seafood is in the growth of our company and the growth of aquaculture in Canada.”
The CAD $40 million wellboat will operate on both coasts of Vancouver Island, servicing 16 of Grieg Seafood’s salmon farms. The Ronja Islander features the world’s most advanced fish-handling technology during both treatments and live transfers to reduce stress for the salmon. New technology also ensures that in the rare event that any wild fish are captured during fish transfers, they will be separated from the farmed salmon and safely released back into the ocean.
“Sea lice treatment is a critical feature of the Ronja Islander, but the overall improvement in salmon welfare for both farmed and wild fish that the boat handles is just as important,” Trethewey says.
“We are always looking for ways to do and be better, and this vessel is not only the result of new technological advances in aquaculture – it’s the result of listening to the concerns of our partners and those who call BC’s coast home.”
This spring, the artwork of Kwakwaka’wakw artist Patrick Hunt will be installed on the bow and stack of the Ronja Islander. The Salmon Princess was designed specifically for the vessel, inspired by a combination of the company’s Norwegian roots and the importance of salmon to BC’s coast.
“Including Indigenous culture in the design of the vessel was important to us, and we are grateful to collaborate with Patrick Hunt in this process,” said Marilyn Hutchinson, Director of Indigenous & Community Relations at Grieg. “The Ronja Islander will be working in the traditional territories of many coastal Nations, and we hope this art initiative can convey how much Grieg respects the inclusion of First Nations in our operations.”
The Ronja Islander will leave Victoria later this week to begin operations on Grieg’s west coast farms. One of its first duties will be to work at Grieg’s very first Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified farms in Nootka Sound.
Grieg achieves first ASC certification at two farms
As part of its recently launched Excellence Program, Grieg Seafood BC has made its first steps towards achieving Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification at all its farms.
Two of Grieg’s five salmon farms operating in Nootka Sound have been granted ASC certification in the past two weeks, the highest standard of independent certification in the world for responsibly farmed seafood. To achieve ASC certification, farms are audited against over 500 indicators or markers, including environmental and social criteria.
Three other farms in the area have recently undergone successful audits and are expected to also be granted ASC certification. Six of Grieg’s farms on the Sunshine Coast and in Okisollo Channel near Quadra Island are now under assessment.
“This is an important first step for Grieg BC as we strive to have 100 percent of our farms ASC certified by 2021,” says Rocky Boschman, Managing Director for Grieg Seafood BC.
“Our salmon farmers and certification team have worked hard to achieve the gold standard in aquaculture certification at these farms. I am very proud of them for representing Grieg’s dedication to excellence in social and environmental sustainability, health and safety, and transparency of our operations.”
The farms that received ASC certification are Williamson and Muchalat North. The others, Gore Island, Atrevida and Concepcion, are expected to also receive the certification soon.
On the Ronja Islander:
• Length overall 69.86 m, tonnage approximately 1850 GT,
• Volume of cargo hold = 1800 m3 of water
• Accommodation for up to 12 crew members
• 100% closed-system technology during fish transport
• Innovative side-loading pump for better flushing and circulation of water
• Full ultra-violet system for disinfecting circulating water in cargo hold during live fish transfers.
• Full collection and on-land disposal of sea lice after removal during fresh water and hydrogen peroxide treatments
• Built-in system for mixing oxygen into the water in the hold.
• ASC was founded in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (DSTI) to manage the global standards for responsible aquaculture and included nearly a decade of meeting with scientists, environmental organizations, industry and academia.
• In addition to attaining ASC certification, Grieg BC achieved its Occupational Safety Standards of Excellence (OSSE) certification in October 2019 which is recognized by WorkSafe BC.
On Grieg Seafood BC:
• Grieg Seafood BC is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary in the province.
• 13 of Grieg BC’s farms operate in partnership with First Nations.
• Grieg BC’s farms are located in Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Clio and Okisollo Channels on the east coast, as well as Jervis, Salmon and Sechelt Inlets on the Sunshine Coast of BC, north of Vancouver.