VIRTUAL -- Jun.4, 2024 -- Ken Corpron, Program Integrity Analyst, GSA, moderator and host, focused the hour on Modern Salmon Farming in B.C.; annual auditing of farm sites to remain GSA certified; New 2025 inspection standards and two-day site/ operational audits.

Brian Kingzett, Executive Director, BC Salmon Farmers Association, led discussion about fish health, sea lice, and antibiotics. He introduced, Kathryn Smith, Veterinarian, Grieg Seafood BC, who discussed egg health in hatcheries on the west coast, and working on ocean sites an hour drive and 40 minute boat ride to the job site. 

"The west coast sites are beautiful. Sea lions, orcas, eagles, humpback whales and killer whales." Moving smolts from hatchery to ocean is stressful on the fish. The hatchery prepares the fish for transfer with antimicrobials which are specifically cultured to acclimatize fish to the ocean site where they are going to be raised.   

"We monitor behaviour to watch for stress, monitor temperature, flow, appetite, O2, light, and demand for supplemental aeration."

Matt Wilson, Fish Health Coordinator, Grieg Seafood BC: "Farmers are checking fish everyday, all things are looked at, mortalities, keeping fish healthy." He and Smith were, "showing a square penned farm here, with oxygenation equipment, in the background is where site management lives, at the end of the pens there are 5 kg fish being harvested today." 

The sites manage individual fish health by controlling sea lice, a naturally occurring ocean parasite, and site management does counts each week. "We monitor fish, treat the fish with well-boats, technicians put the fish through a process to reduce sea lice to .01 percent; they get a mechanical treatment, and we have a process to spray lice off fish. Technicians on vessels deploy vaccines, antimicrobials, and monitor to keep fish healthy and mortalities to a minimum."

There are 50,000 fish in a pen at 3 kg each, ranging down to 30 ft deep. Pellet feed is watched closely, including AI feeding systems with pellet tracking software to prevent overfeeding.

"After a certain time in the business, fish pens go to fallow after a production cycle, some sites recover quickly with high flow currents, in others the matter takes time to clear."

The crew members work 8 days on, 6 days off, the work is high quality for accommodation/worker safety, boat safety, safety equipment, and time off. StarLink allows open communication in off-duty hours at these remote ocean fish farm sites.

Climate Change?  "Carbon emissions are monitored closely, and we keep generators off at night, we monitor temperatures and ocean conditions closely to keep the fish healthy, we can forecast four and five days out what is going to happen with water conditions."

Isaiah Robinson, Chief Deputy Councillor, Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation: His nation sees fish farming as progressive, and part of the nation's effort to manage territory in a good way, using multi generational foresight, stringent rules for Blue Economy, and striving for awards for protection of environment, "We do fish, we have a territorial management program. We are pioneers in the fish farming industry. We came from 5 percent employment rate and collapsing fishery, when Nutreco came along, now we have 99 percent employment rate, and jobs are supporting overall well-being of the community of Klemtu. We had social issues, substance abuse, suicides, we have our people living with purpose, work is something people look forward to everyday, taking care of these fish. 

"It works when it is progressive with our partnership, and we are delivering First Nation smoked salmon product for North America. We have a great pace for value added product. 

"Second to have remote feeding systems in Mowi Canada West. Keeps the monitoring on site  consistent and continuous. We have a policy to keep fallowing process to the maximum lengths to clean the area of a site before re-stocking, and we go a little longer than DFO standards.

"We haven't communicated properly as to how we have progressed in the industry and how much we want this industry in our territory. Working with large groups, governments, agencies, we have protected our territory and we want to show it, to make it clear we are doing this carefully."

Peter Park, Technical Manager, Skretting North America, "It is the nutrients that are the critical factor, finding cost efficiency and balance to feed the fish, but 40% food composition is land animal with high fat content, 40 percent fat, vegetable oil, animal fat, fish oils,  trimmings are used, sources vary according to season, 50% of fish oil sources come from North Atlantic sources.

"In our sources, we look for scalability, like insect mill. Can novel ingredients come in sufficient quantities? If volume is too small, or if it competes with human food chain, can we use  single cell proteins, high in protein and digestibility? Research is on algae oil, algae meal. Finding novel ingredients to produce feed cost efficiently."

Amanda Luxton, Tsulton Site Manager, Mowi Canada West, "We are breeding for fish health, Selective breeding is a key factor, with genetic traits, growth, resilience, health, diversity. Our selective breeding at Mowi is all in-house using RECIRC land-based facilities in the production cycle. RAS is good for little fish, and we retain water, reuse and disinfect, 90 to 95 percent of the same water in each cycle, with controlled environment and temperatures for fish, which is a real concern for the immature fish.

"Oxygenation, ozone, a disinfected environment, using the basic resource over and over. The operation takes up a lot of space. Water maintenance and cleaning equipment takes storage. RAS demands space, power, propane, back-up power (emergency), and expense of maintaining fish to a ocean-ready size requires huge demands on power, even land allocation. Fish thrive in the ocean and they are a direct reflection of the health of the oceans. We work on genetic selections to make the best fish, which takes time."

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