CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Feb. 8, 2022 - After trialing a made-in-BC semi-closed technology solution at its farms off the Sunshine Coast region, Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. (Grieg) has announced it will be proceeding with the installation of these semi-closed system at all three of its farms in Esperanza Inlet, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The new CO2L Flow system (pronounced Cool Flow) is a form of semi-closed containment, which allows for farmers to raise or lower custom designed farm enclosures – ensuring the farmed fish benefit from natural ocean conditions, while also providing protection for wild salmon. The system has been used successfully to rear several generations of fish at Grieg’s farms in the Sunshine Coast region.
In all the trials, farmers noted better growth, lower mortality, better feed conversion rates (meaning the fish are more effective at converting feed into growth), and most significantly - a dramatic reduction in the need for sea lice treatments.
“As a company, we are always looking for ways to improve our operations, and this includes transitioning from standard farming equipment, to new, cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing potential impacts from our operations. This new system utilizes retractable barriers, which are capable of being lowered to 15 metres, fully encapsulating the sides of the farm. This has several benefits, including preventing the lateral interaction of wild and farmed salmon populations, providing protection for farmed populations from harmful algae, and allowing our farmers to better control water quality in the system using a unique aeration technology,” says Rocky Boschman, Managing Director for Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.
“As ocean-based farmers, one of the most common questions or concerns we hear is regarding sea lice, and the transfer of lice between wild and farmed populations. The CO2 L Flow system with its barrier protection has resulted in drastically reduced sea lice numbers on the farmed population, which in turn reduces the need for us to treat. During the trial period at our west coast site, we were able to keep sea lice levels so low that the fish did not require treatment for lice. Overall, we are pleased with the results and there is no denying that this new system represents a transition towards what in-ocean farms can one day become.”
What sets this system apart from others is the use of local knowledge, and on-the-ground learning to guide the development of a system which would work in partnership with nature to address challenges.
“I have been farming in these waters for over 30 years. In that time, I have learned that nature is the best engineer. If you want to find a solution, you need to work with the ocean and the natural conditions. So, when we started looking at how we could adapt semi-closed technology into our operations, we looked first and foremost to the oceans’ naturally occurring deep, clean water as a guide,“ says Dean Trethewey, Seawater Production, Certifications and Regulatory Director.
“The CO2L Flow Max system has taken some tried and true technology, such as sea lice curtains, and paired them with cutting edge aeration technology, to create a completely new system. During sensitive wild salmon migration periods or times when we know there is harmful algae in the region, we can lower the barriers on the farm, forming a barrier between the wild salmon and the farmed population, this prevents lateral interaction, and significantly reduces the transmission of sea lice between the populations. The barriers can be fully lifted outside of these periods, allowing the farmed fish to benefit from natural ocean conditions, temperatures, currents, and oxygen levels.”
To bring this technology to life, Grieg relied on the expertise, knowledge and successful collaboration with several Vancouver Island based technology and services companies – like CPI Equipment and Poseidon Ocean Systems. A leading international oxygen solution company, Oxzo Technologies, was also involved in the creation of some components for the system.
Although the system has shown amazing results in initial trials, Grieg continues to look for ways to improve the system to help further reduce any potential impacts from its operations.
“As a company, we will continue to look for ways in which we can innovate and continue to improve our operations. Currently, the new system already has tremendous benefits through the elimination of lateral interaction between wild and farmed populations and provides both welfare and performance benefits for our farmed salmon – but it doesn’t collect solid waste which is the next opportunity we want to address. We are continuing to look for solutions that will support the recovery of solid waste and ways in which it could be used for some type of value-add product like fertilizer or soil enrichment,” added Boschman. “We will continue to look to nature, local technology, and our farmers to help provide us with solutions as we continue to innovate, transition and improve.”
The system will be installed at all three farms in Esperanza Inlet (Lutes Creek farm, Steamer Point farm and the Esperanza farm) in time for the outmigration of juvenile wild salmon in early 2023.
CO2L Flow system quick facts and additional Information:
• Grieg Seafood launched the first trial of the system in 2019
• Since then, three pilot cycles of fish have been raised in the system
• Overall, fish raised in the system see an average increase of 40 per cent in growth, a 19 per cent (19%) increase in survival, and a 13 per cent (13%) improvement in feed conversion ratio (FCR)
• The system uses retractable barriers to ensure there is no lateral transmission between wild and farmed salmon populations – which is important during the critical in and out wild salmon migration periods
• During periods when the barriers are down, the system uses an innovative, cutting-edge oxygen technology, to address low-oxygen levels within the farm system - helping to ensure the welfare of the farmed population
• To date, Grieg Seafood BC has seen a dramatic reduction in the frequency or need to treat farmed populations within the system for sea lice
• The system is unique in that it can be adapted to fit existing Grieg Seafood farm sites
• The system is sourced and built locally, contributing to the local economy and supporting the development of innovation and technology on North Vancouver Island
• Moving forward, Grieg Seafood will continue to look for ways to collect solid waste for value added products such as fertilizer or enriched soils
Kris McNichol, President, CPI Equipment Inc., says, “CPI Equipment Inc. is proud to partner with Grieg Seafood BC on their full-scale CO2L Flow semi-closed system in 2022. Over the past two years, CPI has worked diligently with Grieg Seafood on trials to improve the efficiency of oxygen transfer to seawater in their sea pens by using CPI’s ODiN Aerations system in conjunction with Moleaer’s nanotechnology. By achieving a greater supply of water quality within the semi-closed environment, we have been able to support the creation of a new ocean-based system. Working with our customers for over 20 years and striving to develop better technology within the aquaculture market both locally and internationally is an important part of our company's success. The knowledge-sharing and teamwork between Grieg Seafood and CPI Equipment shows how people, ideas, and new technology can collaborate to meet the needs of aquaculture for the future.
Heather Clarke, Co-Founder, Poseidon Ocean Systems, says, “When we were first approached by Grieg Seafood to collaborate on the new semi-closed technology they were developing, we jumped at the opportunity as this project will not only provide solutions to global problems, but also addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry in terms of sea lice, algae, and improved conditions within the farm system. Poseidon is a Campbell River based company, which was founded only six years ago. Because of the vision of industry leaders like Grieg Seafood who are committed to constant improvement, evolution and working head-on to address the concerns raised regarding salmon farming, we have been able to expand our business internationally to assist producers like Grieg Seafood and others meet their biggest challenges.”
Gonzalo Boehmwald, Commercial Assistant Manager Oxzo Technologies Canada, says, “This project – the CO2L Flow system - is demonstrating what is possible in salmon farming in terms of using innovation and new technology to improve operations, and Oxzo Technologies Canada is proud to be part of the team working on delivering these new systems for Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. Oxzo has been helping farmers find unique solutions for more than a decade using innovative and cost-effective solutions of supplemental aeration and oxygenation. Our proven, patented technologies and Grieg Seafood’s drive for innovation and overall operational improvements are a perfect fit.”
Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. is one of the largest salmon farming companies in BC, targeting 22,000 metric tonnes of harvest in 2022. It is headquartered in Campbell River, BC and has approximately 180 fulltime employees, mainly located in the rural coastal communities in which it operates. Greig holds 22 farm licenses located on both the east and west coast of Vancouver Island, and operates a hatchery in Gold River, BC. It contracts its processing to a locally owned and operated processing facility north of Campbell River.