FISH FARMING TECHNOLOGY #2 by Ben Green MA (Cantab), CEO The Supreme Salmon Co, UK
The salmon farming industry started in a small way 50 years ago using tiny hatcheries and wooden sea cages, a lot of the knowledge we have now was gained in those early days. This has to be the same with RAS; if it can’t be made to work on a small scale with a pilot unit then it’s a big gamble to hope the economies of scale will make a project viable
RAS: An alternative way forward for Salmon production After 44 years of growing Salmonids in general, and 28 years of rearing salmon in RAS systems in particular, I would hope to have gained some wisdom but I have certainly discovered a lot of my own foolhardiness. Fish farming is a very unforgiving business and it peers into the depths of one’s soul at times but who wants a boring life in an office when there are so many exciting challenges to be had in RAS? I luckily grew some RAS large salmon in the early 1990s and then spent the next 20 years finding the best way of doing it on purpose; and there’s still plenty of system design upgrades to do. I’ve been working away in isolation on a course of parallel evolution and my RAS systems are very different from the systems being sold by other companies but they work well and are profitable enough to supply me with a reasonable living. In this article I will lay out a blueprint of how a successful salmon RAS project can be implemented. It’s not very exciting, it won’t be making millions of dollars from thousands of tonnes of production but it won’t be a spectacular loss of money either. The salmon farming industry started in a small way 50 years ago using tiny hatcheries and wooden sea cages, a lot of the knowledge we have now was gained in those early days. This has to be the same with RAS; if it can’t be made to work on a small scale with a pilot unit then it’s a big gamble to hope the economies of scale will make a project viable.
Laying the groundwork
There have been many words printed on the successful implementation of entrepreneurial projects so I won’t study them here but there are some points that apply specifically to this kind of project. Choose the right species. I’ve concentrated on Salmonids. Why? Mostly because I’m fascinated by them! Staff have to be motivated to care for the stock but salmon also have a high value and a large existing market. It doesn’t make sense to grow a warm water species when the temperature can drop to -10C outside, because that’s massive built-in vulnerability for a start. My farms have been located not far from London. This was a disadvantage when I was selling salmon fry to customers in Scotland 500 miles away, but a massive advantage when I can get fish to the London Billingsgate fish market within hours of harvesting them. One of the advantages of RAS is its small
Figure 1: The biggest ever salmon from a freshwater RAS 24 kilos Figure 2: 10kg grown in 1992 Figure 3: Stocking the angling lake Figure 4: The record rod caught salmon from the lake, 16kg
38 | July 2017 - International Aquafeed