Canada wants closed containment aquaculture

Published on
March 18, 2013

Closed containment aquaculture salmon production will likely boast higher price premiums than net pen salmon production, according to an advisory committee to the Canadian government.

Because several North American grocers have developed sustainable seafood polices that potentially reduce their purchases of net pen-produced salmon, closed containment producers could benefit in the future, according to the new “Closed Containment Salmon Aquaculture” report from Canada’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

For example, the Langley, British Columbia-based Overwaitea Food Group told the Committee that they are reducing the amount of net pen-reared salmon sold in their stores and are filling the gap with as much closed containment salmon as is available. “According to Overwaitea’s experiences selling closed-containment coho salmon, there is a high customer demand for this product,” the Committee wrote in the report.

An Overwaitea representative said there is not a large supply of closed-containment salmon in Canada yet, but the retailer has signed an agreement with AquaSeed to supply its SweetSpring salmon.

Likewise, Guy Dean, chief sustainability officer for seafood distributor Albion Fisheries, said that the salmon farming industry needs to move toward closed containment systems. “We believe that closed containment is a more viable option and provides far better food safety … We think it is a more viable option from an environmental perspective…” Dean told the Committee.

In addition, economic analyses on closed containment salmon show that the systems can be very profitable. One economic report presented to the committee showed that a closed containment system based on 1,000 tons of annual production would require capital costs of approximately USD 12 million (EUR 9.3 million), and produce a net annual income of at least USD 5.1 million (EUR 3.9 million).

In fact, the first commercial-scale closed containment system in Canada is currently being constructed by the ‘Namgis First Nation. “The Committee recognizes that aquaculture could represent a significant opportunity for many First Nations communities and supports efforts to make sustainable aquaculture projects accessible to First Nations who might be interested in pursuing them,” the Committee stated.

Meanwhile, the Committee also recommended that the government of Canada develop a regulatory framework and national policy for aquaculture, which would include an aquaculture act.

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