Taste of BC produces steelhead, above, but is also trialling Chinook salmon. Photo: Taste of BC.

BC steelhead farmer encouraged by Chinook trial

Canadian land-based steelhead salmon farmer Taste of BC Aquafarms has reported encouraging results from its first batch of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), which it is evaluating as a possible future crop.

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The fish were hatched in the second quarter of this year, and to date are performing well in growth trials with good feed conversion ratio (FCR), growth and very low mortality, Taste of BC’s US owner, Blue Star Foods, said in an update.

Taste of BC intends to grow the fish to an average size of 3 kg as it examines the potential of future species diversification.

21,000 tonne target

The fish farmer, based outside of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, also said that construction of its new, state-of-the-art hatchery will be completed in the current quarter. This project is allowing it to evaluate the performance of the next generation designs planned for its large-scale expansion from a farm producing 100 tonnes of steelhead per year to one with a capacity for 1,500 tonnes, potentially supporting 4,500 tonnes of production annually.

Blue Star Foods hopes to produce 21,000 tonnes of fish annually by 2028 at a number of 1,500-tonne on-land farms throughout BC.

The current quarter will also see Taste of BC delivering its first steelhead (sea-going rainbow trout) to another company that produces steelhead salmon in British Columbia. Taste of BC announced in December last year that it had entered into a two-year, $1 million agreement to supply the fingerlings.

Fewer downgrades

Taste of BC also presented its six-monthly operating metrics for its current steelhead operation.

Average fish harvest weight for the six months ending June 30 was 1.94 kg (H1 2021: 2.218 kg) and the total harvest downgrade for the number of fish that the company did not bring to market at full price was 1.3% (1.5%).

Feed conversion ratio was 1.18 kg feed per kilo of fish (H1 2021: 1.08).

Increased biomass

Taste of BC president Ben Atkinson said: “The first six months of 2022 have been focused on increasing standing biomass within our pilot facility as we continue to limit test system capabilities.

“At the end of Q2 2022, we finished with a standing biomass of 40 tonnes in our facility, which was originally designed for 27 tonnes, without compromising water conditions or fish performance. We are extremely pleased with the capabilities of our pilot system which provides a solid foundation upon which we are designing our forthcoming expansion.”

Read more about Taste of BC Aquafarms here.