Nova Scotia’s first land-raised salmon could be on the market by next summer.
Sustainable Blue, a small salmon farm in Hants County, has moved in a batch of young salmon and said it’s well on the way to raising them for commercial sale.
Opponents of open-net salmon farming have long called for farms to be moved to the land preventing fish from exchanging diseases with wild salmon, but until recently there’s never been any Nova Scotian salmon raised out of ocean waters.
At the farm on the banks of the Avon River close to 5,000 salmon swim in circles through clear salt water kept at a constant 15 degrees to recreate the ideal ocean conditions. The closed-containment system recycles all its water, keeping water, fish and waste away from the ocean.
"We use the slurry in a separate, secondary process where we recover the water from it, leaving the solids in a tank and bringing the water back to the farm," said Jeremy Lee, president of Sustainable Blue.
Since 2009, the farm has raised arctic char and sea bass. A month ago, Lee exchanged most of those fish for salmon smolts. They've never been given anything but organic fish food partly due to careful biosecurity measures.
"We've never seen any kind of major diseases that would require us to feed them antibiotics or similar."
CEO Kirk Havercroft said he can't talk about how much it costs to raise salmon this way, but says they're growing faster than expected and as they raise more, cost per fish will go down.
"The technology platform has to provide a water quality environment which supports the best possible growth rate, and it's with the best possible growth rate that you can offset the costs of production from a facility like this," he said.
The salmon should be ready for market in 11 months.