Grieg Seafood BC plans to invest millions in new semi-closed containment systems for rearing salmon at some of its salmon farms in B.C.
After running a trial with semi-closed containment systems at one of its salmon farms on the Sunshine Coast, Grieg today announced it plans to install the systems at three of its farms in Esperanza Inlet, off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The company says each “system” will cost an estimated $2 million.
The new CO2 L Flow system Grieg will use is designed to allow salmon farmers to raise or lower barriers to provide better insulation between caged fish and wild salmon when wild salmon are migrating.
When the barriers are in place, oxygenation technology is used to pump oxygen into the pen to prevent fish from becoming oxygen starved.
Trials have demonstrated that the semi-enclosed systems reduce the transmission of sea lice from wild salmon to farmed salmon – where close confinement can cause sea lice to proliferate – and then back again to wild salmon.
“As ocean-based farmers, one of the most common questions or concerns we hear is regarding sea lice, and the transfer of lice between wild and farmed populations,” Rocky Boschman, managing director for Grieg Seafood BC, said in a press release. “The CO2 L Flow system with its barrier protection has resulted in drastically reduced sea lice numbers on the farmed population, which in turn reduces the need for us to treat.
“During the trial period at our west coast site, we were able to keep sea lice levels so low that the fish did not require treatment for lice. Overall, we are pleased with the results and there is no denying that this new system represents a transition towards what in-ocean farms can one day become.”
Whether the hybrid systems Grieg plans to use will meet the Trudeau government’s policies for salmon farms in B.C. is unclear.
Prime Minister Trudeau ordered the federal fisheries minister to “create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.”
The multi-million dollar question for the industry is: transition to what? The mandate letter is unclear whether the “transition” from open-net pens means land-based systems only, or includes hybrid systems like the ones Grieg is investing in.