Taste of BC Aquafarms' RAS operation currently produces around 100 tonnes of steelhead a year. Photo: Taste of BC Aquaculture.

Deep Bay site for steelhead farm expansion

Florida seafood company Blue Star Foods has identified a site at Deep Bay in British Columbia to develop its land-based steelhead farming operation.

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The location is approximately 20 acres, with an option to expand on to an additional 10 acres, and will have capacity for 4,500 tonnes of steelhead in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

The company, which acquired RAS pioneer Taste of BC Aquafarms earlier this year, plans to produce 21,000 tonnes of steelhead in the region by 2028.

The property is within a designated Agricultural Land Reserve within the Regional District of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

The site sits upon the highly productive Quadra Sediments litho stratigraphic unit with an aquifer that produces high water volumes of exceptional quality suitable for land-based salmon production, said Blue Star in a press release.


Steve Atkinson, who sold Taste of BC to Blue Star Foods but remains in charge of the company with his son, Ben, is overseeing the plans to increase production, currently around 100 tonnes, by building a number of identical 1,500-tonne recirculating aquaculture system facilities in BC.

“The company’s strategy of replicated modular expansion allows greater flexibility in site selection in contrast to businesses that are looking to build 10,000-tonne facilities or larger,” he said.

“This first property meets all of our criteria for the next phase of our expansion. This will be the first location for our 1,500-tonne facility already in progress and will potentially support up to 4,500 tonnes annual production.”

Taste of BC’s Little Cedar Falls brand of steelhead salmon has been on the market since 2013.


Atkinson told Fish Farming Expert last month that the Canadian government’s decision to close 19 net pen farms in Discovery Bay, BC, spelt the beginning of the end of traditional salmon farming in the area.

The Discovery Islands decision followed the ruling Liberal party’s 2019 election manifesto promise to ‘transition’ net-pen farming in BC into some form of closed containment by 2025. That move has been backed by new fisheries minister Joyce Murray.

While “brutal” for the sector, Atkinson said this presented an opportunity for Taste of BC: “There is a little over 100,000 tonnes of salmon production in BC, and 20,000 tonnes of that (in the Discovery Islands) will end by 2022, the rest of it by 2025.

“We’re predicting around 20,000 tonnes of production by 2028, so we’re going to be in a unique place.”

Read a more detailed article about Taste of BC’s plans in the current edition of Fish Farming Expert magazine.