RIP Agrimarine

We have been hearing some unfortunate rumours this week. Apparently Agrimarine has laid off employees from its Middle Point facility.

We have not been able to find any official company statement confirming this; however we have heard this rumour from several different sources.

This is very unfortunate and we hope that the workers are able to find new jobs with minimal disruption.

We have to say that we’re not surprised, though. After the system was damaged in a spring storm, the stock price entered a tailspin which has now bottomed out around eight cents per share.

Oddly, the environmental groups who were so quick to praise the system as the savior of the aquaculture industry have been silent about Agrimarine since then.

Guess the honeymoon’s over. Or the grant money’s gone.

Can’t say we’re surprised. The floating tank system creates more problems than it solves for the fish inside. The only thing it’s good for is looking “environmentally friendly.”

And it’s not even really that. The floating tank system really does nothing to stop disease and parasite interactions between wild and farmed fish. The tank is open to the ocean at the top and below. The risk still exists to transmit pathogens between wild and farmed fish.

The one positive feature of the floating tank was its waste collection system (although we hear that wasn’t working very well). It’s not a bad idea to try and collect fish waste.

And conventional salmon farmers have been looking at this for years. Many different systems have been tried, none have proven practical to use on a large scale. Yet.

For example, farmers looked at using an uplift system similar to the one used today to collect dead fish. It works, but has no real benefits and may create fish health problems. Not quite ready for prime time.

We are confident that some day soon conventional salmon farmers will hit on a system which can collect fish waste and reduce environmental impacts, while increasing the benefits of farming in the ocean. It’s only a matter of time.

Because people have innovative ideas all the time. Science and technology and innovation are at the heart of aquaculture, and Agrimarine should be commended for trying something new.

But the reality is, as Agrimarine learned, some ideas just don’t work, no matter how hard you try and sell them as the “next big thing.”


19 thoughts on “RIP Agrimarine”

  1. So you’re saying the Agrimarine system is imperfect because it doesn’t really protect the farm stock from parasites etc. Does this mean you favour land-based systems?

    1. No, that’s not what we’re saying. The in-water tank system was promoted by the company and by supporting environmental groups as being so much better than conventional farms because it supposedly protected wild salmon from diseases and parasite transfer. This turned out to be false, as the system was still open to the ocean via intakes and water outputs in the tank.

      We favour conventional net-pen systems, because they are effective at growing a lot of salmon with a small footprint, and science shows no need to stop farming salmon this way.

  2. And in the meantime, our oceans and fjords get more and more polluted. In Norway, the salmon farming industry pollution is equal to sewer from 9.6 million Norwegians yearly. That’s almost the double of the Norwegian population. Everyone pays taxes for that, around 1 billion USD. The salmon farming industry pays nothing.

    1. Comparing fish poop to human poop doesn’t work. Fish poop is not equivalent to human sewage. Salmon farm waste is pretty benign compared to human sewage. You also seem to be forgetting in this analogy that wild fish poop too, and there’s a whole lot more of them. Less since they have been fished nearly to extinction in some cases, but still more overall.

      Also, here in Canada, salmon farming companies pay taxes, licence fees, tenure fees and do compensation projects for any impact they may have on fish habitat.

  3. “The risk still exists to transmit pathogens between wild and farmed fish.” So you admit there is a problem with disease, parasites and waste from open net pens being exchanged between wild & aquaculture fish. That is a step in the right direction!

    1. Mike, your strawman is out of stuffing. Farmers freely admit there are risks. To claim otherwise would be foolish and dangerous. You seem to think farmers deny these risks, and you are completely wrong about that.

      Science shows the risks are low, and not causing harm to wild species.

      Careful, science-based management is at the core of today’s salmon farming operations.

      1. As was careful science based management at the core of yesteryears wild fishery. As they say,
        “If you do what you always did you will get what you always got. ” Controlled environment is proven to work. It is a progressive concept and a step in the right direction. Just ask the more forward thinking Norwegians.
        SOMEONE had to step out,

      2. You assume that current salmon farming technology is not innovative. Wrong. Have you ever visited a salmon farm? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? There have been significant changes made over time, and they continue to be made.

        Controlled environment works, and salmon farmers do it in their hatcheries to grow smolts. But it doesn’t scale up. Don’t you think that if it was possible to do it to grow fish to harvest size, they would do it?

      3. Dear Tom,

        No one HAD to step up. When investors are easily duped ENGO’s and the Gov’t that is the second clue that the business model is bad. Even good ideas need good business models. The first clue is that no one else is willing to risk their capital.

        The govt and ENGO’s did not risk THEIR capital. The gov’t risked mine, the ENGO’s risked that of their donors.

        Good ideas with good business models attract real investors who think the idea is so good, and the model so good they willingly and knowingly risk their own capital to make it work.

        Buchanan, CEO of Agrimarine made himself rich , again, after sinking Cedar, by duping “investors” to invest in an unclosed uncontained fish farm not risking their own money, but that of mine and yours we paid in taxes.

        Lots of good ideas can’t find a viable business model. Middle Bay was a bad idea with a great business model: create an illusion that people desperately want to be true and dupe “investors”( investing my tax dollars and dumb naive green donors) more interested in politics than making money. That is Bucchanan’s business model: a few small investors, like employees, get burned, the big investors( eg Gov’t) doesn’t give a shit and fish die. But Mr B gets richer. You think any of the 55 DFO aquaculture specialists saw it coming? Nope. The beaurocrats thought it was such a great move they are now wasting millions on other stupid “investments”.

        Again if the Gov’t or an ENGO is a major investor because the private sector won’t ‘buy in’, Don’t walk away, run.

      4. Your spin doctors all go to the same school don’t they.

        “No environmental damage”

        A feeding barge sank near a Cooke Aquaculture Inc. fish farm in St. Margarets Bay on June 24, but the company did not notify the coast guard or environmental authorities until several days later.

        There was speculation at the time that the spill was not announced immediately because it came on the heels of a provincial announcement of $25 million in support of Cooke.

        The barge, about seven metres long and 3.3 metres wide, is one of two the company uses to carry thousands of kilograms of food and fuel for salmon being farmed on a site near Saddle Island, off the coast of Bayswater Beach.

        Halse said at that time that the sinking did no environmental damage.

      5. You are committing the guilt by association fallacy and also changing the topic. We did not say “no environmental damage” and it is silly for you to construct an entire argument around the assumption we did. Again, your strawman is out of stuffing.

        We readily acknowledge that salmon farming has environmental impacts. But science shows they are very low.

        Also, DFO follows a ‘no net loss policy. Salmon farms are required to do compensation projects, creating and restoring fish habitat in exchange for farm sites. Back on topic, we wonder if AgriMarine had to do such a project to compensate for their tank and barge’s shading effect on the seafloor, because everything we do has an impact, even so-called closed containment projects.

      6. Agrimarine DID have to due enviro compendsation for shading. In fact the project was held up for years becauyse they did not have the money to comply with regulations. Thats one reason they needed some sucker investors- you and me, and the ENGO donors.

        But because they used the right jumble of buzzwords such as “closed containment” and “waste collection” they were able to get fast tracked passed MOE standards. They actually posed a higher risk of failure being a new technology in shallow water, but because they used buzzwords they got an easy ride through First Nation Consultation and the Govt approval process. You know you got it good when your regulators are your investors. Open net pen operatorss with proven decades of reliability can spend years begging just to be allowed to add on a new fish farm and create food and jobs.

        Agrimarine had no significant impact, because it failed from the start. Is that the solution? Govts can help protect the environment by borrowing money on behalf of taxpayers to create businesses that fail?

        If Agrimarine had succeeded in growing fish perhaps by finding a sucker to pay an extra $3 a pound for “eco salmon” it would have the identical impact as an open net pen. IF the waste collection system had workled as planned the floating buckets would stil be flow through, but worse yet: flow thru in shallow water. IF it had been successful it stil woul dhave created virtually no jobs. Why? Because its business model again, relies on suckers; suckers to invest and suckers to pay a premium for fish they are duped into believing were raised at a less risk to the environment. This model failed (except for Buchhanan who took a $400K bailout from the province, paying himself handsomely no doubt, before declaring the company bankrupt) in Cedar.

        As we learned, and I forecast 4 years ago, the risk Agrimarine posed was higher, and if you are worried about disease, or escaped farm fish, the impact was large.

      7. And you Tin Man have no heart because if you did you would care about your neighbors and be concerned about what goes on OUTSIDE the open net pens!!!!!!

        How much HADD compensation do you pay the people of our province for your Aquaculture sites????

      8. Stop with the us versus them and the ad hominem attacks. It’s foolish. WE are the people of this province. We live here, work here and play here. WE are the neighbours. And we care very much about the potential impacts of our farm sites. That’s why we rely on good science and strict monitoring to keep them low. It’s in our own best interests.

      9. You didn’t answer the question?? DFO legislation require that “EVERYONE” who disrupts or destroys aquatic habitat pay compensation for that act.

        How much HADD compensation per site does the industry you represent reimbursed the people of BC?

      10. WELL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am waiting for the answer?????????????????? How much HADD have you paid the owners of the resource???????????????????

      11. You are being rude. No need. This is a private blog, not corporate, we have our weekends too and will answer when we feel like it.

        You will have to ask the individual salmon farm companies what they have done for habitat compensation projects for the HADD (harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat) portion of their aquaculture licences for each facility. We don’t have the details.

        However, we won’t leave it at that. Since you don’t seem inclined to do your own research, but rather continue to throw out baseless accusations and naked assertions, we will try and answer this question as best we can to get the best information available out there.

        Every single aquaculture licence in B.C. is approved by DFO, which considers the HADD potential of each site. DFO follows a “no net loss” policy which requires salmon farmers to do compensation projects.

        This is not optional.

        Again, if you want specifics, ask the salmon farm companies. We are aware of one example in Campbell River, the Baikie Island restoration project, which has been going on for years, replanting eelgrass and restoring the Campbell River estuary to once again support fish habitat after being used for decades as a log booming and sorting ground. Numerous salmon farm companies have donated to this work under the HADD compensation system.

  4. OK, now that the latest scam of enviro groups and politicians is out of the way. Sorry to donors and taxpayers.

    Now when will Namgis RAS fail near Port McNeil? I say by 2015 assuming we taxpayers after overpaying for the facility aren’t asked for a bailout.

    Meanwhile taxpayers via DFO are paying for a trout RAS in Nanaimo. I hear they are only blowing a half million of taxpayer $$. Assuming it gets no bailouts, I assume it will also fail by 2015 after putting non government funded producers out of business.

    Bye bye Agrimarine.

    After wasting millions on failed RAS closed containment can DFO please consider laying off the 55 beaurocrats they are overpaying to kill- I mean ‘regulate’ Aquaculture? We need jobs that earn BC revenue, not suck money away from business people that work.

    Agrimarine employed good people. It’s not their fault that Middle Bay was a terrible idea, but it never looked good on paper either. If your key investors are ENGO’s and beaurocrats , next time run for the hills and ask for your pay in cash.

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