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Province lends AquaBounty Can$2m to finish RAS build

The AquaBounty hatchery and research team at Rollo Bay, where a new production facility is being built. Photo: AquaBounty
The AquaBounty hatchery and research team at Rollo Bay, where a new production facility is being built. Photo: AquaBounty

The Canadian subsidiary of US transgenic salmon producer AquaBounty has been given a Can$2 million (£1.2m) loan from Prince Edward Island province which will be used to complete construction of the company’s 250-tonne production facility at Rollo Bay.


Work on building the production unit and a broodstock facility is currently under way at the site, which also hosts a research and development hatchery. 

Once construction work is complete, 20-30 technical jobs are expected to be added to AquaBounty’s operation.

In a press release, AquaBounty chief executive Ronald Stotish said: “This loan should enable us to complete construction of the grow-out facility at Rollo Bay by the end of this year and to commence commercial production of our innovative AquAdvantage salmon in early 2019. 

‘Superior economics’

“This facility will demonstrate the superior economics that AquAdvantage brings to land-based recirculating aquaculture systems. We are very grateful for the support we have received and continue to receive from the Province of Prince Edward Island.”

AquaBounty’s genetically-modified AquAdvantage salmon have a growth-hormone gene from chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), along with genetic regulatory elements from a third species, the ocean pout (Zoarces americanus). The genetic modifications enable the salmon to produce a continuous low level of growth hormone and grow to harvest size in around half the normal time, making land-based salmon production more economically viable.

AquaBounty currently grows is fish in Panama and has permission to sell them only in Canada. The inability of authorities to decide how the fish should be labelled has so far prevented AquAdvantage fish being sold in the US.

Labelling guidance

The Massachusetts-based company has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to raise AquAdvantage salmon at its on-land farm near Albany, Indiana. But it is currently prevented from importing AquAdvantage eggs from Canada due to the existence of an “Import Alert” pending the FDA’s issuance of final labelling guidance for the product.  

AquaBounty, a majority-owned subsidiary of Maryland genetic engineering firm Intrexon Corporation, revealed that its net loss for the six-month period ended June 30 increased to US$5.2m from $4.1m in the corresponding period in 2017.

AquaBounty said the loss reflected pre-production costs at the Indiana farm and research and development activities at Rollo Bay.