Land-based Aquaculture Workshop Breaking New Ground

                                                                                                                                        photo above: Ryan Hagerty, USFWS

A major workshop on closed-containment land-based aquaculture has been underway this week.

Scientists and representatives of the aquaculture industry from fourteen countries gathered in  Shepherdstown to explore the latest advances in the technology and economics of developing methods to raise Atlantic salmon and other species in ways that remove them from the marine environment.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is a sponsoring partner of the workshop, and Jonathan Carr, ASF’s Vice President for Research and Environment is keenly aware that this workshop can be a vital part of extending knowledge about land-based aquaculture in the United States.

With more than 135 participants and 28 presentations, this is a significant event in sharing the pioneering technology that offers many advantages over traditional aquaculture that harms the marine environment and places at risk wild populations of Atlantic salmon and other species.

Among the advantages:

  • Economic predictability, reducing the chance that a disease such as ISA can send a company into bankruptcy, as recently happened in Newfoundland
  • Wastes are retrieved, and instead of being pollutants, become a byproduct with economic value as a spinoff.
  • Predictable costs that give advantages to the producer.
  • Faster grow-out for the product.

Besides Atlantic salmon, the workshop involved researchers raising many other species that included barramundi, sea bream, yellow perch and arctic char.

Participants also had the opportunity to visit the state of the art Freshwater Institute’s facilities, that are currently conducting a number of large-scale experiments, including a grow-out of Atlantic salmon in conjunction with the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Wednesday’s presentations focused on perfecting the conditions under which the fish are grown. Matters such as, photoperiod, filtering dissolved wastes and CO2 from the water, controlling fish hormones were discussed. All are important in successfully raising fish in these closed circulation conditions.  

Thursday’s focus is on reviews of projects and commercial operations now underway – to learn the real-world lessons that are turning the theory of land-based closed-containment aquaculture into reality. On Friday mornng this went a step further with a panel discussion on taking economic advantage of the waste product of operations.

The momentum provided by this workshop is added at a time when commercial operations have already begun in Denmark, and British Columbia.