Posted by: marineharvestcanada | February 25, 2010

Recirculation innovation at Sayward North

It is an exciting time in MHC Freshwater. Construction has begun on Sayward North’s new turnkey recirculation system provided by InterAqua Advance from Denmark. This will be the first of their systems in North America. Work began with falling the trees, removing the stumps and scraping off all of the organic layer. The next step involves excavating the site to the base of the footings and tanks to begin the concrete work and the installation of the pipe work. Construction of the building is scheduled to begin the middle of March with the completion of the first system by July 1st.

The new building will house two separate systems each designed to recirculate an incredible 99.1% of the water. Each system will contain four 12m tanks which will flow into a treatment facility with two 4m deep bioreactors which are the heart of the InterAqua Advance system designed to convert toxic ammonia into safe nitrate, digest fine organics, degas off excess carbon dioxide and saturate the water with oxygen, exciting isn’t it! The water is then pumped back to the tanks with a small side stream of the water being supersaturated to help meet the oxygen requirements of the fish.The existing Hatchery uses approximately 15,000 Lpm of water to produce 1.8 million smolts. The new recirculation systems will triple the smolt production of the site using only an amazing 600 Lpm of new water while increasing smolt size and quality at the same time.

We look forward to continuing to work together with our Danish colleagues to make this project a success. We are all eager to have the project progress to the operational phase with the first fish scheduled to be added to the system already being first fed in the Hatchery. Between now and then, there is a lot of work to be completed but there’s no turning back now!

By Phillip Redmond, FW Technical Operations Manager

Posted by: marineharvestcanada | February 8, 2010

Collaborative project sheds light on Broughton Clam Beaches

Working collaboratively with the ‘Namgis First Nation the Kwicksutaineuk-Ah’Kwak’ah’mish First Nation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Marine Harvest has spearheaded a  two year project designed to address First Nation’s concerns about a possible link between changes to clam productivity and quality and site operations.

In addition to salmon farming, possible human disturbances in the area include impacts from forestry operations such as woody debris buildup in the marine environment, said Sharon DeDominicis, Marine Harvest Canada’s Environmental Sustainability Manager. The project was an opportunity to learn more about what factors impact bivalve populations, she added.

“We wanted to get a clear idea of what’s going on and Fisheries and Oceans Canada was involved too since they’re the agency responsible for the management of clam populations.” stated Sharon. Officially titled the “Assessment of Impacts to Natural Beaches and Culturally Modified Clam Gardens in the Broughton Archipelago,” the study centered on the Port Elizabeth and Larsen Island farm site areas. Bivalve sampling was done at different distances from the sites, ranging from 200 to 1,000 meters in order to examine  the interaction between aquaculture operations and the clam beaches and terraces.

In addition to focusing on beaches where clams have traditionally been harvested, the half-million dollar project included studying First Nations clam terraces, or gardens. These ancient one-two meter high rock walls were constructed at the low-water level and acted as breakwaters to allow the clams to flourish while protected from the strong currents.

“The clam gardens have “huge cultural significance” for the area’s First Nations.” Sharon stated.

Throughout the spring and summer, approximately 5,000 clams were collected and studied. A variety of information was gathered, including digital pictures showing the location and quantity of clams on the beaches, as well as the approximate ages of the adult and juvenile clams. Sea grass, algae, and sediment surveys were also included in the inventory of habitat and clam populations. The sediment samples collected will provide information regarding the history of the clam terraces.

The beaches chosen for the study were based in part on knowledge shared by local First Nations regarding areas where clam gathering was done in generations past.

The project team not only included Marine Harvest and DFO staff but also included reps from the ‘Namgis Nation, the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, and consultants who offered additional technical expertise.

The field portion of the project is now complete and written results are expected by February 2010. They will include future considerations for longterm monitoring and procedures that are intended to preserve or increase clam productivity as well as providing a direction for possible future research.

By Gina Forsyth

Posted by: marineharvestcanada | February 3, 2010

Diana loves her work at Potts Bay!

Diana Pickwick, Assistant Manager at Potts Bay, describes herself as a “down to earth, get your hands dirty kind of person”. It’s this attitude that has contributed not only to her successful career in aquaculture but to her life in general.

Born in Comox, Diana devoted 15 years of her working life to Zellers doing a variety of jobs with the department store including human resources. In 1992, she decided it was time to make a change to aquaculture. The timing proved favorable since a colleague’s husband managed the Blunden site for then Stolt Sea Farm and needed new staff. After a visit to the site, Diana was hooked. She worked at Arrow Pass and Wicklow Point and then moved into brood stock (thank you Terry Smith!), first at Whirl /Twist and now at Potts Bay.

She recalls commuting by boat between Whirl /Twist and Swanson when Whirl /Twist didn’t have staff accommodation. “We got lost in the fog a couple of times,” she said, not sorry those days are now behind her.

Diana cherishes the time she spends in her home and garden with Elliott, her four year old granddaughter, someone she affectionately calls her “little buddy”. Come January 2010, Diana will welcome another grandchild.

And by the way, remember the hand written birthday card you received with the Tim Horton’s gift certificate? Thank Diana for the card and for continuing a well-chosen tradition she brought with her from Zellers.

By Gina Forsyth

Posted by: marineharvestcanada | January 29, 2010

Opinions are one thing. but in the future please stick to the basic facts

Courier-Islander  Published: Friday, January 29, 2010

I’m a BC salmon farmer and take pride in my work. I’m also proud of those people I work with – hard working and honest Campbell Riverites.

But I find it disheartening that the Courier-Islander seems to be a favourite venue for individuals or organizations with a hate on for aquaculture to attack my career and also the character of those friends I work with.

A recent letter to the editor (Empty words, Van Egan, Jan. 20) is a prime example of this – a personal attack mixed with misinformation or lies.

Mr. Egan apparently took exception to a recent letter that Mary Ellen Walling, Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, wrote to correct a past letter writer that wrongly quoted the final report of the Pacific Salmon Forum.

In response, Mr. Egan called Ms. Walling a “hack” and “trained in the ways of deceit”. Anyone who has met Mary Ellen knows that she is one of the most honest and kind-hearted ladies who cares deeply for communities on the North Island. But apparently ad hominem attacks weren’t enough, so Mr. Egan also thought it best to throw in a couple of “non-truths” for good measure;

No. 1 – Mr. Egan states that “fish farming is not allowed” in Alaska. Wrong. Salmon aquaculture (or salmon ranching as it is referred to) has been practiced for decades in Alaska. In fact, aquaculture produces over 40 per cent of Alaska’s annual salmon catch. In fact, Alaska hatcheries and ranching program produces three times the amount of salmon than BC salmon farmers (60 million vs. 20 million respectfully).

No. 2 – Mr. Egan then claims that BC salmon farmers refuse close-containment systems only because of “cost”. Nonsense. BC salmon farmers have always been interested in these systems – in fact our hatcheries (where our fish spend 1/3 their life) are all closed contained. But these systems have not yet been developed to successfully grow our fish to harvestable size. Yes, cost is a factor, but not the only factor. Past and present trials have yet to show desired environmental benefits mainly due to the vast amounts of energy required to produce each fish. Regardless, BC salmon farmers are always willing to give new technology a try to see if we can improve the way we farm.

No. 3 – Lastly, Mr. Egan suggests that BC farmed salmon is “laced with chemicals (and) they dare not sell them”. Absolute hogwash. Actually I’m more disappointed with the editor of the Courier-Islander to allow that libelous comment to make it to print.

While I’m happy our local papers provide a venue for community members to voice their opinions on matters of interest, perhaps it’s best that we to stick to fact and avoid baseless personal attacks.

Mike O’Keeffe,

Campbell River

Posted by: marineharvestcanada | January 22, 2010

Team Spirit Rider Cancer Ride

Jacob Koomen enjoyed ‘The Ride To Conquer Cancer’ so much last year that he’s doing it again for 2010, but this time it will be on the tandem bike (The Spirit Rider) with his wife Jannie seated behind him. Jacob is Maintenance Manager at Sayward North hatchery.

Jannie has dedicated the ride in honour of her brother Cees who passed away in 2006 due to this horrible disease called cancer. Jacob and Jannie have a lofty goal of raising $5000 and know they can’t do it without your support. They would love to see their sponsor page filled with the names of friends and coworkers. Marine Harvest Canada has assisted with a $1000 donation.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation, is a two-day cycling journey, through Canada’s Pacific region taking place in the summer. It will be a challenge in a number of ways, but on our tandem and with your generosity, a real impact will be made!

To donate to team “Spirit Rider”, please visit

Posted by: marineharvestcanada | January 18, 2010

Salmon farmers just as concerned for wild salmon

In recent weeks, several open letters have appeared expressing opinions on aquaculture and wild salmon. Some of the information presented in letters published Dec. 30 by Julie Sigurdson and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip require clarification.

First, it is important to endorse the writers’ point that declining wild salmon populations in BC is a serious problem and one that deserves the full attention of all British Columbians. Salmon farmers recognize the importance of wild Pacific salmon to coastal ecosystems, life, culture and traditions -and realize our wild salmon heritage has immeasurable value to the future of BC. It is for that reason that we take our commitment to sustainability so seriously.

Unfortunately, declining wild salmon populations are a concern along the entire Pacific Northwest Coast, not just in British Columbia, and the problem is found both in areas with salmon farms, such as BC, and in areas without salmon farms such as the states of Oregon and California. The fact that we are seeing the same problem in areas where salmon farming is not practiced suggests that other factors are contributing to declining returns.

And while we cannot identify one cause, salmon farmers can take steps to minimize our impact and to protect wild salmon. Some of what we do is voluntary but regulatory authorities mandate much of it as a condition of each farm’s license. For example, BC salmon farms can only be sited in areas where water currents provide optimal conditions for fish well-being and environmental sustainability. This includes avoiding sensitive wild salmon habitat such as coastal fish spawning and nursery areas.

In addition, to ensure environmental compliance, all salmon farm sites are subject to detailed review by 10 federal and provincial agencies. Farm employees are trained in environmental management and annual site monitoring programs ensure continued sustainability and are the most stringent in the country and around the world.

Ms. Sigurdson states that the Pacific Salmon Forum recommended that government impose a moratorium on the issuance of new farm license. That is not correct. Anyone wishing to read the report and its recommendations can find it online at It is also not correct to suggest that BC has “fast tracked” approvals for new farms.

While salmon farming in BC covers a small area we recognize the importance of the strong regulatory regime that enforces our environmental and operational practices and safeguards the wild salmon’s ecosystems. And we are committed to working together with all other interested groups to find the real causes of declining salmon populations and to determine real solutions.

We see there are a lot of comments being submitted in the comments section following some of these articles. Dialogue on these issues is important. We remind everyone that it is only by working together that we will find solutions to the many challenges that wild salmon face, and we encourage everyone to focus on the issues and on finding solutions.

Mary Ellen Walling,

Executive Director,

BC Salmon Farmers Association

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