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.

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pacific Coastal Airline flights 8P1543 on Feb. 22 and 8P1538 on Feb. 24 had cased of COVID-19 onboard, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. (Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)
Two flights between Kelowna and Victoria report COVID-19 exposures

Pacific Coastal Airlines flights on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 affected

Organizers say some 100 vehicles rallied against plans by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Victoria to sell 40 acres of its 98-acre property in Metchosin. (Barb Sawatsky/Submitted)
Proposed subdivision of green space in Metchosin draws 100 vehicles in protest

Plans for land owned by Boys Girls Club of Greater Victoria affects entire region, say residents

BC Housing ensures that by March 31, shelter will be available to all people living outside. (Black Press Media file photo)
All unhoused Victoria residents will be offered shelter by March 31, says BC Housing

BC Housing working to secure shelter locations in coming weeks

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Saanich Coun. Susan Brice and Mayor Fred Haynes are calling on the province to develop new solutions for emergency response to mental health crises with the consideration of a potential new 911 category. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Saanich mayor, councillor call for new solutions to mental health emergencies

Shifting response from police to trained mental health team the best option, mayor says

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Nootka Sound RCMP responded to a workplace fatality report south of Gold River on Monday morning. (Campbell River Mirror photo)
One dead in workplace accident at Gold River logging site

The RCMP and Work Safe BC are investigating the incident at Western Forest Product’s TFL 19

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

Most Read