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PANEL DISCUSSION - Three Questions on the Future of Land-based Aquaculture
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 


At the end of the afternoon, a panel made up of presenters was brought to the front, and asked to address THREE questions in succession regarding the future of land-based closed-containment aquaculture.

What is holding fish production in RAS back?

Eric Hobson: The model is just developing. Need to attract billions of dollars, and to do that we need to have the spreadsheets and business models

Jeremy Lee: We need to have a success story. That will make a great difference.

Tom Losordo: Need to have right sizing. We need success stories. Once we have the success stories, the next thing will be the trained personnel. People need to know a lot of different subjects

Justin Henry: Nothing is holding it back. Recirculating systems are growing fast in many other species.

Norman McCowan: Our problem was a lot of people selling bad equipment.

Where should we put our resources?

Steve Summerfelt: What has changed is the support of Tides Canada and Atlantic Salmon Federation. We need resources to continue research

Tom Losordo: We need to educate the finance people.

Jeremy Lee: We need to be able to convince finance people. We also need to convince government. For agriculture you can get assistance for all sorts of research. For us, we presently need that.

Eric Hobson: We need to become virtually integrated, with all the different pieces of the chain coming to the table. Ever skill set already exists, but we need to make sure we develop all of them simultaneously.

Rob Johnson: In Europe there was a lot of research that was being put right back into the industry right away.

Justin Henry: Marketing needs to pull more individuals together. In Denmark most production is in RAS. As to the Canadian government, we are still at the point they are getting in our way.

Norman McCowan: RAS Aquaculture in the US needs to be given a higher priority in agricultural loans.

Eric Hobson: We need to continue to share, to come together, and to minimize the number of failures. We are also thinking of ways to develop a more formal organization.

Is there an optimal RAS scale?

Tom Losordo: I know there is a lot of money out there. But I know there are not many that want a 1,000 tonne system. I can see that we can develop 100 tonne systems that involve plants

Jeremy Lee: There are two ends that work – 100 tonnes when you do things small and yourself, and then there is 1,000 tonnes, where you have accountants and all the others. A thousand tonne farm is actually 10 farms of 100 tonnes.

Eric Hobson: I don’t think there is an optimal market. There could be a range of possibilities.

Norman McCowan: We need to add the value-added market. We need to see that discharges are closed.

Justin Henry: If your tanks get too big, you cannot handle the fish. This matter of scale is important.

Rob Johnson: Referred to aquaculture in the 1980s, where an executive said there was no business model for a company over 5,000 tonnes.

Steve Summerfelt: With a small family, it is difficult to work with just fish. Add on plants. I am hoping that denitrifcation systems will be well engineered and big enough for large, agri-businesses.

Audience involvement was considerable during the panel discussion.

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Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standards
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

Certified organically grown salmon will capture prices double those of regular marine net-pen Atlantic salmon. With this in mind Justin Henry went through the Canadian standards, and also noted there was yet no U.S. standard.

Justin Henry – Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard

From 1996 there were discussions, and by 2002 there was a standard on the Pacific coast. Between 2004 to 2008 there was discussion of BC standard, but that was not achieving success.

By April 2012 a Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard was released.

This standard is hoped to eventually match the standard of Aquaculture EU. Presently the US does not have a standard for Organic Aquaculture.

The standard provides protection for the environment, and includes seaweed, marine plants, and aquaculture animals. GMO materials are prohibited except vaccines, as wwell as synthetic pesticides.

There must be a detailed management description of all operations.

Animal aquaculture covers water quality and environment, reproduction, feed and feeding, and health, among other criteria.

There is also a permitted substance list as part of the standard.

Can salmon be grown in RAS systems? The answer is yes, in Canada. The EU standard does not allow recirculating water systems, however.

Land-based closed-containment salmon can meet the many detailed criteria as Justin Henry went through in detail.

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The state of certification of seafood in Canada
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

Rob Johnson


Rob Johnson described Seafood Solutions which uses the Seafood Watch Criteria for Aquaculture. He noted that most of the large food distributors have added some form of Sustainability requirement.


He then described the 10 criteria used by Seawatch, the eco-certification benchmarking project.


All farmed salmon certification standards currently benchmark to a “Red” Avoid status.


Aquaculture Stewardship Council is a standard that has been introduced in North America, and is the highest standard for marine aquaculture. However, they don’t totally address the impact on wild salmon


Another is GAA BAP, which Cooke Aquaculture meets.


Seafood WATCH has developed a External Assessment Model – a system which can be costly, but there may be options to partner, perhaps a distributor.

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Marketing Sustainable Salmon - Land-based
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

Guy Dean

Albion is the largest seafood distributor in Western Canada, with head office in Richmond, BC, with three other distribution centres spread across Western Canada.

The company was an early pioneer  in offering sustainable options – both wild and farmed. It is aligned with various eNGO organizations.

“Taste and quality is first with people buying seafood. After that it is health and price, but after that there are a host of other factors,” said Guy Dean.

“Making a greener environment at the seafood counter has become important,” he added.

The word “Sustainability” is overused. People associate the word with a host of characteristics that may or may not be related to the seasfood.

“When we started marketing Kuterra, we had the word local came up related to sustainability from a focus group. However they could not agree on what local meant.

By 2012 it became clear that distributors of seafood needed to develop a sustainability position.

“We delisted eight different species groups due to poor sustainability practices,” he said, “but now continuous improvement is importance.”

Part of this is Aquaculture Improvement Project or AIP (pronounced ape). The need for continuous improvement has brought a much greater level of engagement between suppliers and distributors.

Sustainability Statements have been made by most Canadian and the top US food rsetailers.

Now 20% of our products are sustainable under the Ocean Wise program, but this makes up 50% of our sales.

There is a need to market sustainable seafood at all levels from mass market to high end.

The Market includes a demand for about 102 M. lb of sustainable salmon demand. There is perhaps a 15% to 30% increase in the price related to the land-based closed-containment system.

Because of the better control of the product we can offer premium pricing, as many chefs want to be assured of the price.


Branding is more than a name. It is who your are as a company, including the symbol.

“To be really successful you need to have achieved branding franchises.

For Kuterra the design was entirely related to being land raised. Plus the colours were those associated with Pacific Coast First Nations.

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Jeremy Lee and the Story of Sustainable Blue
by Atlantic Salmon Federation on 

Jeremy Lee and Sustainable Blue

Jeremy Lee has developed in Nova Scotia an exciting land-based closed-containment business, the first in Atlantic Canada. However, in Spring 2014 disaster struck.

“I should like to go through some of the circumstances related to the disaster we had in March” said Jeremy Lee to the audience at ASF's Wild Salmon Nature Centre.

At about 2:30 AM, an electrical failure occurred, and as a result, about 12,000 nearly market-ready Atlantic salmon died. He continued with a description of the system and the disaster.

The PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) controls what happens in the plant, and also provides the alarms. The utility power failed with the 630 amp breaker tripped, and as a result the PLC failed. The generator started up, but without the PLC there were no alarms and no control. As a result the tanks were mostly pumped out by 5:30 AM.

There was a design issue, as the alarms should not be part of the PLC. Over the next week we studied the system, and could find no reason for the utility power.

“We invited a third party to come in and examine the situation.”

“I received the report three days ago, and they think they were turned off.”

There was no chance of a surge, and no chance of a ground fault.

Before we lost the fish, they were at a density of about 96 kg/m3.

The fish were growing better than expected. Early on there was a modest mortality as smolt, and then there was a very modest mortality rate due to random small problems.


“We have been focusing this year on building a hatchery,” said Jeremy Lee, “We are using Icelandic eggs because they have good disease history, and can be supplied year round.”

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