International Summit on Fish Farming in Land-Based Closed-Containment Systems

AIQ#5_Photo by Ryan Hagerty-US Fish and Wildlife ServiceIn 2010 The Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute entered into a partnership with Tides Canada to change the course of salmon farming with a commitment to advance aquaculture solutions that protect wild salmon and the marine habitat.

With support from the Salmon Innovation Fund, a collaborative effort brought together governments, industry, environmental organizations and First Nations to explore and advance the adoption of closed-containment production systems as a means to foster protection of the environment and of wild salmon

As part that effort a series of Aquaculture Innovation Workshops were sponsored to provide exposure to the leading edge of aquaculture knowledge and to present objective science on the technical, biological and economic factors.  Each of the workshops has been formatted to document the rapid progress that is being made in research and new project investment.

In collaboration with Tides Canada, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the Freshwater Institute is hosting the fifth in the workshop series, an International Summit on Land-based Closed-Containment Fish Farming in Shepherdstown, West Virginia September 4-6, 2013.  The three-day Summit features an agenda ( AIW 5 – Program Aug 28 ) with world-class speakers and more than 130 attendees representing 12 countries.

You can follow along here for observations during the Summit and also at  @FreshwaterInsti .


6 September 2013 5:30 pm EDT

Summit Close-Out

Eric Patel of Tides Canada handled the difficult challenge of bring the Summit to a conclusion though the analogy of an RAS land-based technology flywheel.  He provided credit to those that have been pushing to move the technology flywheel to begin to spin and identified input forces of technology, talent, market and investment as forces that are causing a rapid increase in speed.  Some that are pushing now may find they need to suddenly hang on as the momentum increases and the flywheel speed spins up.  In particular talent (bringing a new generation in with the skills needed for management) and investment (identifying capital sources and the requirements for finance) were proposed as focal areas for a future meeting in Vancouver, BC in 2014.

Joe Hankins  


 6 September 2013 11:15 am EDT

Creating Revenue from Unexpected Sources

“A revolution is unfolding.” Entertaining presentation from the master marketer Norman McCowan of Bell Aquaculture.  McCowan provides insights into how his company is generating significant revenue by creating value in highly targeted and branded products drawn from what are otherwise problems and waste products.  Liquid hydrolysate fertilizers and worm casting soil amendments for organic gardening are now generating 20% of his annual turnover.  Next on the creativity agenda is a protein cube created from processing offal headed for specialty zoo-animal feeds.

Tom Losordo of Pentair Aquatics subs for David Haider and describes how Urban Organics is bringing new life to the old Hamm’s Brewery Co. building in St. Paul, MN.  Renovating and repurposing a massively built urban industrial structure into an aquaponics business is a lesson in adaptive design and sustainability commitment.

Joe Hankins  


5 September 2013 5:15 pm EDT

New technologies and eye-popping updates on RAS projects around the world

Fascinating afternoon with presentations from Kruger Kaldnes / Veolia and Pentair Aquatics on design innovations and new technologies on the horizon for RAS.  We closed the afternoon with an eye-opening update on the Langsand Laks (Atlantic Saphire) project by Bjarne Hald Olsen of Billund Aquaculture.  The Langsand Salmon project is operational and is targeted for 1000 MT of 4-5 kg Atlantic salmon per year.  Massive tanks for final grow out are 870 m3 and constructed above grade with pre-cast concrete panels.  Cool sustainability feature the project includes an 850 KW wind turbine that more than offsets the electrical demand of the project.

Headed for dinner, more networking and a Summit bonfire social tonight.  Great meeting!

Joe Hankins


5 September 2013 10:30 pm EDT

‘Namgis First Nation Land-Based Atlantic Salmon RAS Project

Chief Bill Cranmer provides an inspirational introduction to the newly branded KUTERRA Land Raised Salmon project.  Eric Hobson and Jackie Hildering of the K’udas Limited Partnership fill us in on the detail of the financing and business plan and the usual challenges in getting the first 470 MT module commissioned and operational. The first cohort was stocked in March of 2013 with fish provided by Marine Harvest. The project is a remarkable collaboration of funding support, best-practice design and global suppliers. 

Joe Hankins


5 September 2013 9:00 am EDT

Sustainable Intensification

Jeff Silverstein, the National Program Leader for Aquaculture, USDA ARS, provides a great introductory overview of global food production challenges and places aquaculture in the center of the answering technology required for sustainable intensification of agriculture. USDA talks about the 3 Ps of sustainable animal production; Production, Protection, Profitability.  While public sector funding for basic and applied agriculture research has been declining Jeff highlighted external calls for recommitting additional resources going forward as investments in food security and national economic advancement.

Joe Hankins


4 September 2013 5:30 pm EDT

Closing out Day One

Andrew King, University of Tasmania, differentiates salmon production choices in his part of the world and concludes that RAS salmon production alone or as a hybrid phased grow-out technology is financially attractive but requires deep-pocket capital resources.  High return, but high risk, net pen projects in high energy ocean locations look more attractive until disaster strikes.  Svein Martinsen, Nekton AS / Smola Farm is working on floating closed-containment technologies, providing some interesting images of a range of designs failed, proposed and future.

Long day, lots to think about and discuss at the Summit social tonight.

Joe Hankins


 4 September 2013 4:45 pm EDT

Assessment of Alternate Production Systems for Salmon Farming

In what may be the most engaging tag team and paper of the Summit Trond Rosten (SINTEF) and Brian Vinci (Freshwater Institute) provided a comparative financial and environmental assessment of two 3300 MT salmon model farms, one RAS and one net pen technology.  This presentation was a massive collaboration of institutions and analysts on both sides with a real effort to get the best and most up to date performance data and cost information and to be fully transparent in assumptions.  In short RAS was surprisingly competitive in production costs and in CO2e impacts, and lagging the net pen financial model only under the highest performance net pen assumptions.  The RAS model presumed capturing a price premium for the product in the market, reasonable based on recent market studies. This is a paper you are going to want to read and a presentation to look for when it appears on the Tides Canada Aquaculture Innovation Workshops site.

Joe Hankins


4 September 2013 1:30 pm EDT

Concepts in Microbial Water Quality Control

Lars-Fleming Pedersen of DTU Aqua brings us back from lunch with a reality challenge.  He observes that there is a increasing relationship between system production and management/capital input however economic profitability is not likely to be found at the far end of maximum management input.  He provides some illustrative examples of very simple RAS “systems” that seem to defy conventional wisdom on critical limiting criteria and what defines good water quality.  Pedersen advocates for microbially-mediated systems that provide robust stability as a design approach that seeks better investment returns.

Joe Hankins 

 4 September 2013 10:45 am EDT

Precocious maturation challenges in RAS

Chris Good of TCF’s Freshwater Institute examines the early maturation challenge facing RAS production systems.  Good provided early and interesting data on the presence of naturally excreted salmon hormones concentrating in water recirculation systems that may play a role in amplifying or controlling sexual maturation in cultured salmon.  Good also identified very low levels of presumptive anthropogenic-sourced hormone detected in raw incoming groundwater as an emerging issue for the industry.

Joe Hankins


4 September 2013 9:15 am EDT

Opening Session on Health and Performance in Land-Based RAS

Bendik Fyhn Terjesen, NOFIMA, Norway provides a research update on Optimized PostSmolt Production, a Norwegian initiative to use an extended land-based RAS phase to provide larger sized salmon that will reduce the time period required for full grow-out in open net pens in the sea.  In initial results, Atlantic salmon in lower salinities consumed more feed generating higher growth rates.  In combination with high swimming exercise, fish welfare indices were improved pointing the way to a possible role for a hybrid production model for improving the sustainability footprint of conventional salmon production.

Joe Hankins


3 September 2013 10:30 PM EDT

Opening Tour of the Freshwater Institute

Early arrivals to the Summit toured the Freshwater Institute’s aquaculture research facility.  A highlight of the tour for most was the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) full of Atlantic salmon.  Approximately 13 metric tons of fast-growing salmon at a density of 90 kg/m3 in freshwater were the talk of the tour.  Also highlighted was a recirculating egg incubation system holding trout eggs and replicated experimental-scale RAS systems stocked with walleye.  An area of interest to some in the crowd was the research on autotrophic denitrification using fluidized beds of fine particulate sulfur media. Registrants continued to arrive at the National Conservation Training Center site of the Summit into the evening.  It’s an early start tomorrow so follow here and #AIW5 for updates.

Joe Hankins