Innovation, Technology and Sustainability
Salmon farming is a relatively new industry, a youngster in the world of agriculture. In British Columbia the first salmon farms were introduced 30-years ago and in that time farm management and technology have continually changed and adapted to address environmental factors, the needs of fish husbandry and consumer demand for quality seafood.
Advancements in technology have been key to the success of modern salmon farming and will be key to future growth and sustainability. Technological change has made sea-based farms more secure, reduced the feed requirements of fish, almost eliminated the need for antibiotic use, led to major improvements in the management of hatcheries and steadily improved the economic sustainability of salmon farming.
Closed Containment Salmon Nurseries (RAS)
Improvements to technology arise when need drives innovation, which in turn drives change. Marine Harvest Canada had a need to enhance the management of its hatcheries and turned to the innovative use of the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) where freshwater is filtered and reused. Today Marine Harvest operates nine RAS systems in its British Columbia hatcheries thereby enhancing the growth and health of young fish and reducing water requirements by 90%-97%.
The success of its RAS hatcheries has led Marine Harvest to consider the possibility of growing fish to market using land-based RAS. If this technological innovation proves viable technically and economically its use may address environmental and fish husbandry challenges that are of concern to the company and to society - but it may introduce additional challenges. At present it's not at all clear that RAS closed containment is a viable option, but the company wants to find out.