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The first group of salmon smolts has now been successfully grown in a new state-of-the-art, land based aquaculture facility operated by Marine Harvest near Sayward, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

The facility was built with state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology, which can re-use about 99 per cent of the freshwater in the system through complex cleaning and re-oxygenation technology. Currently, this system allows salmon farmers to grow smolts (young salmon ready for saltwater) for about one year in a carefully controlled and disease-free environment.

Sayward North RAS

The salmon, which were grown to 80 grams in size, were the first to be raised in the new, 60 tonne facility, and is the first of a two phase investment of $6.3 million. The salmon smolts have now been successfully transferred to marine sites for further growth to market size.

“These smolts grew very well and are very healthy,” stated Craig Schelter, Manager at MHC’s Sayward North freshwater facility. “This new technology worked well for us and we’re very happy with the product we’ve sent to sea.”

Technicians continue to learn about this new technology, but early results suggest the recycling of freshwater is working well. “To be able to grow our land-based farming in a sustainable way, we have to find ways of conserving freshwater usage,” notes Dean Guest, Freshwater Manager at MHC. “RAS systems will allow us to raise more smolts at our existing facilities while actually utilizing less freshwater. This technology has been developed by aquaculture producers around the world and is an important part of our sustainability goals here in BC.”

The RAS technology was purchased from Inter Aqua Advanced of Denmark and was built with the help of numerous local contractors. Another facility of similar size is now being built at the same location.