The Cermaq Semi-Closed Containment System undergoes trials at a salmon farm in Norway. (Photo supplied by Cermaq Canada)

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

A major B.C. salmon-farm operator will soon be testing a new containment system designed to prevent sea lice and algae from entering pens and hopefully reduce the chances of fish escapement.

Cermaq Canada is assembling the structure, known as a semi-closed containment system (SCCS), in Port Alberni and plans to stock it with Atlantic salmon later this fall for trials at its Millar Channel farm in Clayquot Sound.

“We are just finishing our second trial producing one-kilogram salmon in a semi-closed cage in Norway, similar to the one being deployed in Canada, and we are very excited by the results,” said David Kiemele, managing director for Cermaq Canada.

“During both trials, a control system was anchored adjacent to the new SCCS. The fish within the SCCS showed consistently better growth, overall improved performance and almost no occurrence of sea lice…”

Canadian Maritime Engineering will oversee and manage the assembly of the system in B.C.

Open-net salmon farms have long been the focus of controversy for their potential impact on wild salmon, either through escapement or the spread of sea lice that can be lethal to fish.

Cermaq’s containment system is fitted with a polymer lining that wraps around the net-pen like a bag, isolating the farmed fish from the natural environment and wild stocks, Cermaq says. Four intakes draw seawater into the pen from depths below the upper-water column where sea lice and some harmful algae are commonly found. Water will exit the bag through deep-level ports.

READ MORE: Federal fund offers relief to B.C. seafood processors

“The bag remains pressurized through continuous and positive water flow,” Kiemele said. “This will essentially eliminate lateral contact between wild and farmed salmon, which has benefits to both populations.”

The lining can withstand damage from storms and predators, according to Cermaq, and if a breach does occur the interior net will prevent salmon escapement.

The system can be customized to specific sites, based on depth, dissolved oxygen levels and water temperatures.

B.C. trials of the containment system preceed a federal government mandate to transition salmon farms from open-net opperations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the fisheries minister a 2025 deadline to develop a plan with industry and the Province of B.C.

Last week B.C.’s First Nations Leadership Council called for the immediate end to marine-based salmon farming in the province, following reports by fish farm owners that show 37 per cent of facilities, or 19 farms across the province, exceed government sea lice limits.

Opponents to open-net pens are pushing for a transition to land-based systems, but industry groups like the BC Salmon Farmers Association have resisted the option as it will require steep capital investments and additional operating costs, take up larger environmental footprints and produce an inferior quality of fish.

READ MORE: First Nations call for end to B.C. open-net salmon farms

Cermaq said its containment system may allow the company to farm in a predictable and stable manner while still retaining the benefits of ocean farming with less risk.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Salmon farming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Coast home-grown ice talent Carly Edwards from Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert takes centre ice on TV competition show Battle of the Blades Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., with her partner NHL partner Chris Versteeg. (Photo supplied)
Local figure skater spotlights on TV show’s center ice

Prince Rupert’s Carly Edwards is featured on TV competition show Battle of the Blades

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
PHOTOS: Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

B.C. Ferries is still providing ferry service between Tsawwassen and Victoria, 60 years later. (File - Black Press Media)
Ferry sailings cancelled for Oct. 29th and 30th

BC Ferries announces technical difficulties on Northern Expedition

Technical difficulties with the recording and broadcast of the Oct. 26 Prince Rupert City Council meeting mean residents were unable to watch on TV or online happenings in the meeting. (The Northern View file photo)
Technical difficulties leave public unable to access City Council meeting

Summary brief of Prince Rupert City Council meeting

Requests for proposals for the first stage of a water treatment facility project have been issued by the City of Prince Rupert on Oct. 26. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Water treatment facility project in Prince Rupert enters first phase

Prince Rupert seeks proposals for assessment of water quality supply and treatment options

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Most Read