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Aquaculture America blog: Land-based farming systems in the spotlight

IntraFish's Kim Tran is blogging live from Aquaculture America 2017 at the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio. Check back here to get the latest news from the show floor and the sessions.

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 3.30 p.m CST

Silver lining?

A hot topic during Aquaculture America was disease as it’s one of the largest risk factors in aquaculture. However, Frank Asche of the University of Florida said there is a possible silver lining.

He said Norwegians once told him, “it's really painful when you can't produce but it's really good in the long run because it forces you to open new markets.”

He goes on to explain that around 2010, the disease issues led to Chile to find a new market in Brazil and now “more than 85 percent of whole fresh salmon has been going to Brazil.”

“The Chilean disease crises show the salmon market is very well integrated globally,” according to his presentation. “As a response to the crises, Chile shifted markets being served substantially. some new markets that were developed are still competitive.”


Wednesday, Feb. 22, 3.15 p.m CST

Tilapia looking for a comeback

The Americas Tilapia Alliance (ATA) is looking to ramp up its website and part of the reason is to get accurate information out to the masses and promote tilapia's benefits.

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US tilapia consumption was hurt by circulating disinformation stories on the internet and the website could be a strong "vehicle" to get correct literature into the digital spotlight more.

"We are our own best voice," said ATA President Bill Martin of Blue Ridge Aquaculture.

He added they also hope to start job listings on the website because "for the tilapia industry to grow, we more people to come in."

The group looks to connect stakeholders in the tilapia sector such as academia, pharmaceutical companies, feed suppliers, equipment manufacturers, seed & genetics laboratories, importers, grocery and food service companies and more.


Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1.00 p.m CST

'Producing algae at low cost'

Heliae and Syndel said Monday they signed an exclusive distribution agreement to supply a new feed ingredient, Nymega, to the aquaculture sector. The new partnership "creates new opportunities to bring algae products to aquaculture feed formulation," said the companies.

"Nymega is a DHA-rich algae that provides a precision tool for targeting DHA levels in feed," said Len Smith, Heliae chief business officer. "Nymega's simple profile allows formulators to target specific DHA content ... at a price that is finally affordable."

The product will be available early this year pending regulatory approval. Washington-based Syndel develops aquaculture chemical and pharmaceutical products and Arizona-based Heliae is an algae production technology company.


Tuesday Feb. 21, 11.30 a.m CST

Where's the soy?

Neil Anthony Sims, Kampachi Farms co-founder and CEO, said although research is showing potential is soy-based diets in aquaculture, there are still commercialization challenges, some of which are regulatory.

Soy protein concentrate sourcing is still problematic. "There's no SPC feed mill available in North America."

"Also, feed grade DHA- rich soy oil has not been approved yet" and other ingredients are facing barriers related to pending patents and lack of approvals.

"The lack of feed grade soy is the biggest impediment in America."


Tuesday Feb. 21, 10.22 a.m CST

Does soy beat an Ewos diet?

Neil Anthony Sims, Kampachi Farms co-founder and CEO, said they're looking into "completely eliminating all fishmeal out of the Kampachi diet ... most of our focus is on soy-based research because that's where we've seen real scaleability."

His company is exploring experimental technologies with off shore, deep water farming, "focused on a high value species" raised in drifter cages, called aquapods, near Hawaii.

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Sims presented research showing there was no significant difference between the soy protein concentrate (SPC) diet employed in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln research lab compared to the commercial Ewos diet for yellowtail in terms of feed conversion ratio as well as likeability in the consumer taste test. 

The Ewos diet did outperform soy in the 2016-17 growth trial in average fish weight, but the soy diet produced a wider range of fish weight in the trials. "So if your fish is good on soy, it's very good, but if your fish is bad on soy, it's terrible."

Sims said their 2016-17 plan includes commercial feed mill validation by repeating the trials as well as sashimi testing.


Tuesday Feb. 21, 7.49 a.m CST

Aker BioMarine joins exhibitors for first time

Although many of Aker BioMarine's team have attended Aquaculture America in past years, "this year is our first time exhibiting," said Ian Bouchard, VP of Sales of Qrill Aqua for Aker BioMarine.

"Our existing and prospective customers foresee growth in the US," he said. "When they foresee growth, we see an opportunity to put our ingredients in their feed."

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Qrill Aqua is Aker BioMarine’s registered brand name for krill products made to support animal nutrition and health. It contains marine proteins, high levels of phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acids and the natural antioxidant astaxanthin.

These ingredients have been documented as positive for animal health as being a superior source of omega 3 fatty acids in diets and for having an excellent protein quality.

"It's a relatively new ingredient for aquaculturists in the US and Canada. Some of the folks are familiar with it," he told IntraFish adding there's been interest among researchers, R&D and commercial firms.

"We're getting ready in anticipation of a full distribution of it once the FDA approves its use in the US. We're getting lots of folks asking about the status of when it'll be available. That is contingent on the FDA's workload, but our regulatory affairs department is ushering it through the process so we expect a speedy approval, but we can't determine the timing of it."


Monday, Feb. 20, 11:59 p.m. CST

Pentair breaks ground

Pentair just started construction on a Connecticut-based multi-million dollar project and aims for this to become a "proof of concept for our marine RAS capabilities for sea bass," said Joe McElwee, North American sales manager of commercial aquculture.

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"We are digging holes now and just started on the pipework ... We're targeting RAS farms, but also the investment community. We want to get to a level where we can meet with investment groups and show proof of expenditure."

Pentair hopes this will help build faith in fish farming among investors.

"In the US, there is no confidence in the investor community in aquaculture," he told IntraFish, adding that Pentair hopes to change this with their new proof of concept facilities.

For more information, head over to Pentair's booth #615.


Monday, Feb. 20, 11:15 p.m. CST

Lacey Act in the hot spot

During the Aquaculture America town hall session, some in the industry criticized the Lacey Act, injurious wildlife provisions and other regulations, which stakeholders felt created barriers to the US aquaculture sector.

California Aquaculture Association President Tony Schuur said certain parts of regulations are "not just flawed a little bit, but incompetent and irrelevant."

However, panel speaker Bryan Landry said the federal government has "seen some egregious issues with some aquaculture farms."

"There's been illegal movements of fish that introduced fish disease risk across state lines." This and other violations are reasons behind the current regulations, he said.

Hear more from Landry and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Tuesday's session at 8:30 a.m.


Monday, Feb. 20, 5:00 p.m. CST

Mobile managing fish farms

California-based Aquasend launched a new product earlier this month and expects it to be officially released this summer.

Its AquaDOT product is a solar-powered buoy that monitors an aquaculture farm's oxygen and temperature levels while communicating with a user's mobile device. It offers real-time measurements by collecting data once per minute using Smart Sensor Technology software.

"We are currently working with the Center for Aquaculture Technology, and then two Tilapia farms in Palm Springs to evaluate the AquaDOT product and provide assistance with further changes," said CEO and Founder Kristin Elliott.

The company, which has a booth at #502, partnered with Precision Measurement Engineering on this product.


Monday, Feb. 20, 4:45 p.m. CST

Pentair pumps out new products

Pentair featured new equipment during Aquaculture America including a new Sparus pump with constant flow technology, debuted one week ago, as well as a new bead filter system, completed two weeks ago.

"We're constantly updating and redeveloping our equipment ranges for the different applications," said Joe McElwee, North American sales manager of commercial aquculture. Last week Pentair launched a new aquaponics tank design as well.

The company offers design, equipment and service/maintenance contracts making it a "1-stop shop for farm equipment," he said, adding Pentair specializes in:

  • water disinfection - UV and ozone
  • water filtration - bead filters and drum filters
  • monitoring of gases
  • oxygen delivery systems
  • "We also have sea pen airation systems" which target for algae blooms and sea pen oxigenation for lice treatments and low oxygen situations. "We've seen a very successful application in British Columbia and are now doing it in Chile."

For more information, head over to Pentair's booth #615.


Monday, Feb. 20, 2:30 p.m. CST

Why is US aquaculture failing?

George Lockwood, chairman of the Aquaculture Working Group (AWG), said the US aquaculture industry is valued at $750 million (€706 million) but that is derived out of a billion dollars in research over the years.

After researching "why aquaculture hasn't succeeded in the US," he reached these conclusions:

  • The regulatory environment at the state, regional and national levels is a major barrier for entrepreneurs.
  • Aquaculture has a bad reputation among consumers and even lawmakers, which was created by aquaculture adversaries.
  • There's no capital for entrepreneurs to develop aquaculture ventures.

"We're behind the rest of the world," he said. "We need to take a major stand during this time of government transition. There's a lot that can be done at the federal level."


Monday, Feb. 20, 11:30 a.m. CST

Pentair completes aquaponics plant

Aquaculture industry tech provider Pentair just finished construction on its joint venture facility. Pentair "just finished construction last week" on its large-scale indoor aquaponics plant in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota and they'll "start putting fish in soon," said Joe McElwee, North American sales manager of commercial aquculture.

"We took a vacant building and put in a 150-ton salmonic RAS unit and 300-ton aquaponic system, which makes us the largest in the US at the moment," he told IntraFish. Pentair started working with Urban Organics on this venture in 2015.

"We're putting our money where our mouth is. We are demonstrating to the investors the operating costs and this is a proof of concept to show that this is a viable industry for RAS and aquaponics in the US."

For more information, head over to Pentair's booth #615.


Monday, Feb. 20, 9:50 a.m. CST

IntraFish is up and running

Hopefully everyone stayed safe and dry last night. It was a rough night of thunderstorms and heavy rain, but looks like the conference area was fortunate to dodge the tornado that touched down in northern San Antonio.

Our both is set up at #420 with a few of our sales folks and I'll be around if you want to chat. 

Those of you who received one of those black-and-blue Aquaculture America bags, you'll find our IntraFish Aquaculture Q1 paper in there. If you want a copy, stop by our booth on the show floor.


Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 p.m. CST

Howdy from Texas

Aquaculture America 2017, held at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, offers back-to-back sessions on topics such as Fish Genetics/Genomics, Aquaponics, Fish Nutrition, Macroalgae and more.

 Behind this event are the US Aquaculture Society, National Aquaculture Association and the Aquaculture Suppliers Association.


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