How it Works
Ocean sites are grouped in three bay management areas with each area designated for a particular age of fish. The first area is set aside specifically for smolts, or young salmon; the second for market-ready fish that are in their second year of growth; and the third area will be fallowed or kept out of production. This new system of crop rotation with fallow periods lets the ocean floor rest between crops and protects both the health of our fish and of the environment.
Our ocean sites are carefully located in deep waters with good tidal movement. We do this to provide a clean, healthy and natural environment both for our fish and for other species that live in the area. All Canadian aquaculture sites undergo a rigorous environmental review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act while US sites are similarly governed under the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
We stock our farms at low average densities - about 18 kilograms of fish for every 1000 kilograms of water. This means that, at average stocking rates, the fish only occupy about 3% of the volume of the ocean pens allowing them to swim freely in their natural environment.
Stock containment on our farms is an important part of a sound and sustainable management regime. We employ robust ocean containment systems (cages, mooring systems and nets) that are designed and built in-house according to a high standard set by experienced farm managers. These systems undergo routine maintenance inspections to make sure our fish are kept safe and secure. We farm in some of the most pristine yet demanding ocean conditions in the world. These environmental challenges have forced us to be innovative and to adapt to farming in high energy, offshore areas. Farm managers are now able to use technology to “read and react” to ocean conditions and environmental circumstances when determining a feeding system. All sites employ underwater cameras and many use automated computerized feed systems.
We raise only native species on our farms. Our genuine Atlantic salmon come from native fish that have been swimming in north Atlantic waters in the United States and Canada for hundreds of thousands of years. Because they are bred from native stocks, they have the natural characteristics required to flourish in our ocean farms.
Our fish grow in a natural cycle with no added growth hormones. It takes up to two years for our ocean-raised salmon to grow from young smolts to a 10 pound market-ready fish.
Another important tool for reducing our environmental footprint is the company’s pioneering of the Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) approach to farming under the leadership of an interdisciplinary research team led by Dr. Thierry Chopin of the University of New Brunswick and Dr. Shawn Robinson of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. IMTA creates a balanced ecosystem as nutrients released from the salmon pens are recaptured to become food and energy for the additional commercial crops of mussels and seaweeds.