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Closed floating aquaculture containment tank. (Photo: AgriMarine)

First closed containment aquaculture tank launches in BC

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Tuesday, January 18, 2011, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

British Columbia (BC) is sporting its first closed floating salmon-farming tank off Vancouver Island as an ecologically responsible alternative to traditional open-net pens. With three more on the way, the tanks will be used to raise Chinook salmon commercially in the water of Middle Bay in Campbell River, BC, according to this week’s announcement by AgriMarine Holdings Inc and the Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute.

The institute develops closed-tank technologies for aquaculture and is funded by bodies including Vancouver-based AgriMarine, Coast Sustainability Trust, US-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF) and the federally funded agency Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

Salmon will grow in the tanks after the systems to provide them with fresh ocean water and oxygen and remove waste have been placed and tested. AgriMarine estimates that the process will be complete in the next two weeks for the first tank.

The scheme will be able to produce 1,200 tonnes of salmon per annum, reports CBC News.

In contrast to this system, traditional net pens used for salmon farming in the province are open to the ocean and have been condemned for transmitting parasites and disease such as sea lice to wild salmon stocks. 

Closed floating containment aquaculture tank. (Photo: AgriMarine)

Further, waste from open-net pen systems goes directly into local waters instead of traveling through tides and currents.

The new achievement represents a "significant milestone in the transition toward more sustainable salmon farming practices," stated the coalition of environmental groups Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform.

Although AgriMarine previously tried raising fish in land-based tanks in BC, the process was too costly, while the new technology should let the company be cost competitive, explained company spokesperson Travis Schneider.

Floating tanks have a longer shelf life and make feeding cheaper and more efficient than open nets, Schneider said, and these feed savings generously counterbalance the costs of pumping and oxygenation.

"You basically get the environmental benefits for free," he added.

Hatchery production. (Photo: Agrimarine)

Retailers may charge a premium for the "eco-salmon" raised in closed pens, Schneider noted.

Long-time vocal opponent of open-net fish farming biologist Alexandra Morton has praised the new tank, reports Straight.com.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I know the Namgis [First Nation] are doing something up here on land with the closed tank. I think that now is the time, and you’re going to see all kinds of entrepreneurs, who want to do this to make money.”

Spokeswoman for the Georgia Strait Alliance Ruby Berry said the new method also grants farmers more control over the quality of the water they raise their fish in.

"There's very high demand for fish grown in closed containment," she told.

Related articles:

- DFO recognises potential of closed containment methods 

- Lice infests wild salmon all along BC coast: study 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 


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