Posted by: marineharvestcanada | July 23, 2009

The Marine Harvest Canada Semi-Annual Report: Our story in our own words.

MH_A444It seems that we read stories of concern about salmon farming almost daily in the press, but it is not often that Marine Harvest, the largest salmon farming company in BC, gets to tell its own story.

With this bi-annual newsletter we want to show you our company: how we provide a healthy and nutritious food product, how we are an important contributor to the economy and the communities of North Vancouver Island, how we are a strong team of 550 motivated and competent employees, how we are partners with several First Nation bands in whose territories we operate and, most importantly, how we do our utmost to minimize any harmful effects on the natural environment.

Much has been said about the potential impact of salmon farming on its’ natural surroundings and I would like to use this opportunity to share with you our actions and ambitions in this field. At Marine Harvest, we are committed to conducting our operations so that we do not negatively affect wild salmon or the ocean environment. Today we are focusing our efforts on the following areas:

Sea lice management: We strive to ensure that sea lice levels on farmed fish are very low with the objective that sea lice on migrating wild salmon smolts do not exceed natural background levels. We will do this through a combination of coordinated treatments and/ or grouped fallowing (emptying) of farms. Although we do believe that sea lice are not the most significant threat to wild salmon, we will continue to improve our strategic management of their impacts. Looking forward we support the development of an annual monitoring program, in collaboration with government and ENGOs, to evaluate the success of these measures.

Reduced fish products in feed: Salmon farming is one of the most efficient ways to produce meat. Other farm animals consume 2.5 to 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat in contrast to salmon that require only 1.2 kg. Making that 1.2 kg of feed currently takes about 1.7 kg of whole fish (capelin, anchovy, etc.). We are experimenting with fish feed that would reduce this ratio to 1 kg of fish in for 1 kg or salmon produced. Preliminary results are very promising and it is our ultimate aim to attain this ratio for all of our salmon production in Canada.

Closed containment technology: While Marine Harvest does not see this as a technically and economically feasible solution for salmon farming in BC at this point in time, we are interested to develop a disciplined approach to technology development. This process should lead to pilot project testing of selected technology by Marine Harvest and others, provided government is willing to fund part of the costs.

Eliminate use of copper on nets: To reduce the buildup of algae and mussels on our nets and to make sure that water can freely flow through them, we coat our nets with a copper solution. We are now employing novel net washing techniques and it is our aim to reduce the use of copper by 50% over the next two years. Ultimately we will strive to eliminate the use of copper altogether.

Animal welfare: We are in the process of reducing the maximum density in our fish cages to less than 15 kg (about 2 fish) per m3 of space. We believe this will make our fish even happier and healthier than they are now. We expect lower densities to result in better natural resistance to disease and faster growth, meaning less time in the sea and with less exposure to sea lice.

We are excited about these projects! We will keep you updated on these and other relevant subjects related to our business through this newsletter. We hope you find it of interest!

By Vincent Erenst, Managing Director

To read the MHC July 2009 Report to our Communites, please visit


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