Photo: Closed containment is affordable

AquaSeed operates a closed containment farm to raise coho salmon in Washington State. Credit: AquaSeed.

We know that net-pen aquaculture threatens wild salmon, and we also know that the industry is a profitable one that contributes significantly to local, provincial and national economic accounts. The good news is that an increasing body of evidence shows that land-based, closed-containment aquaculture is an environmentally, technically and economically viable option to net-pen aquaculture.

It's generally accepted that closed containment aquaculture has the ability to drastically reduce environmental impacts on the marine environment, but there is still debate whether the technology is adequate for commercial-scale production and if it economically feasible? At a Speaking for the Salmon workshop on land-based closed-containment aquaculture, Dr. Andrew Wright presented his study "Technologies for Viable Salmon Aquaculture: An Examination of Land-Based Closed Containment Aquaculture".

Dr. Wright, an engineer by training who holds a handful of patents, demonstrated that land-based closed containment is technically viable on a commercial scale by designing a system using widely available, off-the-shelf components. He further demonstrated that his system is economically viable, with a capital investment that is reasonable and in-line with new technology, and low operating expenses, resulting in a healthy cash flow that materializes in the early years of the operation. The study even finds that profits can be significantly increased when waste is used as a feedstock for a secondary product, such as lettuce.

The bottom line: for a $12-million investment, you can expect anywhere from $5- to $13-million in yearly profits. Not a bad investment!

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