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Grieg Seafood BC’s new RAS facility completed and performing well. The expansion of Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.’s (Grieg’s) Gold River Hatchery Expansion Project in Canada, known as RAS 34, was successfully completed earlier this spring and has received the first transfers of juvenile Atlantic salmon, known as fry, into the system.

“The completion of the facility marks the culmination of years of planning, construction, trialling and now finally production. In April, our teams transferred the first fry into the facility, and we are happy to report that the system has been functioning beautifully, and the fish are performing very well in the new system,” says Rocky Boschman, Managing Director for Grieg Seafood BC. “In total, the project represents an investment of $25 million and the creation of almost 60 fulltime site positions at the peak of construction. The new facility will effectively double our smolt capacity at our hatchery and the new technology will allow us to start to explore keeping our fish in the hatchery for longer, reducing the amount of time required in the ocean, known as post-smolt farming or production.”

Traditionally, smolts have been transferred to sea at about 100 grams in weight. In post-smolt production, the fish are held back in the hatchery for an additional period of time, allowing the fish to grow to anywhere from 200 grams up to a kilogram, before being transferred to the ocean. This doesn’t have any negative effects on the salmon, but rather is being shown to produce benefits from both wild and farmed populations.

“By holding fish at the hatchery for an extended period of time and allowing them to develop beyond the previous transfer size of 100 grams, we see immediate benefits for the farmed populations. The larger smolts are better able to adapt to the transfer to ocean conditions, have less mortality overall, and show higher resistance to naturally occurring pathogens and parasites in the ocean. Depending on how large the fish are when they are transferred, the time spent in the ocean can be reduced by up to a year, greatly minimizing interactions with wild populations,” says Scott Peterson, Freshwater Director with Grieg Seafood BC. “As we become more comfortable with the technology, we will look to incorporate additional size trials into our production schedule. This is part of our overall company goal of transitioning more of our production onto land.”

Project Quick Facts:

  • Total project cost: $24.75 million.
  • Project related job creation: At the peak of construction, 57 full-time jobs were created by the project.
  • The majority of project contractors, project workers, and materials were sourced locally on Vancouver Island.
  • Construction timeline: approximately three years, 2019 – 2022 (this includes a three-month project shut down during Covid-19 pandemic).
  • Capacity of the new facility: up to 400 metric tonnes of fish.
  • Capacity of original facility: 500 metric tonnes.
  • Combined capacity of expanded facility 900 metric tonnes.
  • Largest size smolt which can be grown in the new facility: up to one kilogram

Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. is one of the largest salmon farming companies in BC, and is targeting 22,000 metric tonnes of harvest in 2022. It is headquartered in Campbell River, BC and has approximately 180 fulltime employees, mainly located in the rural coastal communities in which it operates. Grieg holds 22 farm licenses located on both the east and west coast of Vancouver Island, and operates a hatchery in Gold River, BC. It contracts its processing to a locally owned and operated processing facility north of Campbell River.