“Fish farming is important for producing healthy food for the growing population
of the world. Our aim is to produce food in a sustainable way, which means
that we operate in such a way that we do not reduce the potential for
future food production based on the same natural resources”
Cermaq Sustainability Principles 2009
Our company relies on a healthy environment for our salmon and we accept responsibility in protecting the environment in which we operate. To view Mainstream Canada’s Environmental Policy please click here.
In following this commitment, we became the first Canadian aquaculture producer to achieve full International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) certification across our operations. The EMS is designed to minimize harmful effects on the environment and to achieve continual improvements in our environmental performance. It is the highest level of environmental stewardship certification currently obtainable in the industry.
CERMAQ through EWOS Innovation also plays an important role in environmental sustainability in their investment in research and development. For more information about how EWOS Innovation contributes to sustainable aquaculture please click here.
Minimizing Benthic Impacts
“The ecological footprint of a process quantifies the global
resources required for it to be carried out.”
Cermaq Annual Report 2007
Benthic TestingSalmon farming generally creates significantly smaller environmental impacts than other large-scale agriculture operations. These impacts are primarily salmon feces and excess fish feed that may build-up on the ocean floor (benthos). These impacts are confined to the benthos in the immediate vicinity of salmon farms. To reduce the potential for waste build-up, salmon farms are situated in deep water sites with moderate current flow to allow for dispersal of any waste material and are often fallowed between generations to allow the benthos to recover.
To further minimize the potential for impacts to the benthic environment, we use automated feeding systems, paired with underwater cameras linked to surface monitors. Site staff observes the fish as they feed and can stop or slow down feeding to ensure feed is not wasted.
All salmon farms in BC must also follow a provincially regulated program of benthic monitoring and reporting. This involves regular sediment sampling and/or video surveillance of the benthos around the farm. Specific measurable standards for chemical and biological indicators are established in the Finfish Aquaculture Waste Control Regulation and may not be exceeded at the farm sites.
Sustainable Fish Feed
FeedingCermaq invests in the latest technologies to monitor and improve fish feed production and quality, through its EWOS division. EWOS is one of three global suppliers of feed for salmon and trout farming. EWOS manufactured feed is approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in farmed salmon.
EWOS prioritizes the use of feed ingredients that are judged to be sustainable, based upon the best available information and improves responsible sourcing of feed ingredients through active involvement with suppliers. EWOS has also pursued detailed carbon and ecological footprint studies aimed at further understanding the impact of choices in the type of raw materials and distribution methods used for different feed types.
EWOS Canada’s feed includes fish meal, fish oil, legumes, canola, vitamins, poultry meal and oil. Products from ruminants (i.e. cattle) are never used in EWOS fish feed.
EWOS invests in Research and Development through EWOS Innovation to:
Reduce dependence on raw materials such as marine fishmeal and fish oil from reduction fisheries and,
Produce efficient feeds that have a good Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR), and hence, a lower impact on the local environment.
EWOS Innovation is responsible for fish feed research and technology and continues to investigate alternative feed ingredients in place of marine raw ingredients (e.g. wild fish used in fishmeal and oil), to improve overall sustainability of feed production and reduce dependency on marine raw ingredients.
Research and development has resulted in a steady decline in the amount of fishmeal and oil used in fish feed at Mainstream Canada farms. In fact, 2011 saw the lowest ratios of marine raw ingredients ever used in feed across the entire Mainstream group, with feed that was only 23.8% fishmeal and only 13.7% fish oil.
Thanks to this research, EWOS has been able to make more feed without increasing consumption of marine resources. In order to supply the increased salmon production by Mainstream Group companies, EWOS has increased its production of feed by 66 per cent since 2002. However, in the past decade, use of marine resources has remained at the same level.
For more information about how EWOS is using less marine resources in its feed, which still allows us to grow healthy salmon full of Omega-3s, please read the latest EWOS Spotlight publication.
Managing Sea Lice
Sea Lice ResearchSea lice are small, external parasites found throughout the world’s oceans on many species of fish. In B.C., two species of sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis and Caligus clemensi are common parasites of wild Pacific salmon. They are also found on other fish such as herring and sticklebacks.
Our salmon enter the marine farms from freshwater hatcheries free of sea lice, as they are not found in freshwater. Over time in saltwater they will pick up sea lice from wild salmon or other fish that carry them. While sea lice are generally not a serious health problem for our fish, there are concerns that farmed salmon can pass them back to the wild stocks, particularly the out-migrating smolts, and in turn, potentially cause health problems for the wild stocks.
For this reason, sea lice are counted and regularly monitored on our fish according to provincial government regulations that stipulate the frequency and maximum sea lice levels permitted before intervention is required. Sea Lice management strategies may include harvesting the fish, or the treatment of the fish with SLICE®, a licensed veterinary drug that rids the salmon of the parasite. SLICE® is milled into the feed, and is a Health Canada approved treatment for sea lice in farmed Atlantic salmon.
If necessary, Mainstream Canada takes action to minimize sea lice levels according to our sea lice management plan, prior to the wild salmon out-migration in the spring. In addition, as part of our ISO 14000 Environmental Management Systems certification, we set environmental objectives, as well as conduct, and assist in research to determine new methods of prevention and treatment. To move towards our goal of transparency in our operations, and to assist in research objectives, we post our sea lice counts results at the link below.
For more information about sea lice management in the Broughton Archipelago, click here to view an information sheet produced by Mainstream Canada and Marine Harvest.
Sea Lice Monitoring Results
Preventing EscapesMainstream Canada strives to prevent all fish escapes as they not only represent a financial loss for the company, but also are an environmental concern for the general public. Concerns have been raised that escaped farmed salmon may compete with the wild salmon for food, and/or spawning habitat, that Atlantic salmon may become established on the Pacific coast, and that escaped farm salmon may carry disease to the wild salmon. For more information on these issues, please go to Sustainability Facts.
Whether these concerns are biologically valid or not, Mainstream Canada acknowledges that they are public concerns, and as a company, must work diligently to minimize or eliminate farm fish escapes.
Towards that end, we use strong, resistant containment net systems, and surround those with an additional net system to prevent predators from gaining access to the fish. Nets are uniformly weighted to prevent excess strain on any components. Bird nets are installed on top of the containment nets to protect from bird predation and catch nets are used during all handling activities such as smolt transfer or harvesting.
Nets must also be regularly inspected and maintained according to the Provincial Aquaculture Regulation. In addition, each farm maintains an Escape Prevention Plan, and in the advent of an escape, has developed an Escape Response Plan. Any escapes must be reported to the Provincial government within 24 hours. For more information about these requirements and the Aquaculture Regulation please