Sockeye salmon. (Photo: StockFile)
Land-based sockeye salmon will hit the market next week
Friday, April 05, 2013, 04:20 (GMT + 9)
Willowfield Enterprises has become the first company in the world to successfully raise sockeye salmon in a land-based fish farm.
Located in Surrey, British Columbia (BC), the firm took 15 years to perfect land-based fish aquaculture and will gut, scale, package and sell its first batch of sockeye next week, said company owner Don Read. Consumers will be able to buy the fish in Choices Markets under the brand West Creek Farms.
The farm plans to eventually produce up to 500 kg of sockeye a week, Vancouver Sun reports.
“We have plans to double our capacity, but we want to take time to grow the market,” said Read. “We have been farming trout for 20 years, but we have only been profitable for three years.”
Although land-based fish farms avoid polluting the ecosystem and causing sea lice contamination that affects wild salmon stocks, they have not been popular in BC because of the higher costs associated with infrastructure and maintenance.
Read said his company got around it by keeping his operation “low key,” The Canadian Press reports.
“Ours are not contained indoors so we didn’t have to build infrastructure to surround it,” Read noted. “We don’t have a lot of usage of power in the whole process. It’s very low key and low maintenance.”
He added that his sockeye are all raised without antibiotics and have been given the Oceanwise certification.
The land-based farm works as follows: it uses a flow-through method that draws water from a well and channels it into multiple above-ground salmon pools. Once the water has flowed through, it — along with the fish waste — moves into a series of more natural, open trout ponds where native plants remove the waste.
“Instead of having a closed environment you have a natural environment. Then what you have is natural filters. You have the plants absorbing the nitrogen, the phosphorus — the fish waste basically,” Read said.
The final stage of the gravity-fed system is a clean pond hosting natural plants.
Once the water filters into West Creek, the brand’s namesake which is located nearby, the water is certified to be clean and pollutant-free, Read added.
Workers at the company scoop out the excess feed and fish excrement from the bottom of the tanks on a regular basis and turn it into fertilizer, which Read hopes to start selling commercially.
- Land-based fish farms continue to gain popularity
By Natalia Real