Aerial photo of the Kuterra Facility located on Vancouver Island. Image: Kuterra.
Aerial photo of the Kuterra Facility located on Vancouver Island. Image: Kuterra.

US firm takes 15-year lease on 'Namgis RAS farm

United States company Emergent Holdings, which owns Maine on-land salmon farming company Whole Oceans, has taken a 15-year lease on the Kuterra on-land salmon farm in British Columbia.

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In a press release, Jacob Bartlett, chief executive of Whole Oceans, said: “This will be a smooth transition as Emergent Holdings and Whole Oceans have been financially and operationally managing the facility for the past year.

“Emergent Holdings and Whole Oceans look to bring advancements in technology to Kuterra to make it more effective, productive and stable.”

Didn’t make money

Kuterra is owned by the ’Namgis First Nation, which is opposed to open net-pen salmon farming. 

Its recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm near Port McNeil on northern Vancouver Island was built with around $10 million from the government and philanthropic organisations to prove that a land-based RAS can be successful. However, the relatively small-scale operation has failed to make a profit.

Emergent said Kuterra had shown that land-based RAS Atlantic salmon farming is environmentally safe and economically sound at scale, and that it grows premium quality, sustainably produced Atlantic salmon that meets consumers' expectations.

‘Valuable insights’

“Given Kuterra’s successful proof of concept along with experienced staff, Whole Oceans stands to gain valuable insights and synergies to advance the company’s workforce training and will also benefit from the technological and marketing expertise of Kuterra,” said Bartlett.

Whole Oceans is developing a RAS salmon plant in Bucksport, Maine, which will eventually produce 20,000 tonnes per year, and Emergent has previously said it plans to produce salmon on the west coast of north America, too.

It has not said whether it plans to achieve that hy expanding the Kuterra site.

The Canadian Liberal government is planning to “transition” all British Columbia salmon farming away from net-pens in the sea by 2025. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan with the project in a formal letter last week, although it made no mention of moving the operations to closed containment, as promised in the party’s election manifesto in October.