Closed Containment Technologies

Closed containment is a proven, viable technology, and is currently used to raise species such as tilapia, trout and salmon in Canada, the US and China. Whether sited on water or land, closed containment systems can:

  • eliminate or significantly reduce water column pollution from feed, feces and chemical waste and contamination of the seabed under farms;
  • eliminate escapes from the rearing facility;
  • eliminate marine mammal deaths due to interactions with farmed fish and nets;
  • eliminate or greatly reduce the risk of disease and parasite transfer to wild salmon; and
  • significantly reduce the need for antibiotics and chemical treatments in raising fish.

Because of these advantages, as well as advances in the technology itself over the last several years, closed containment has become widely regarded by scientists, conservationists, some salmon farming companies and the public as a more responsible alternative to net-cage aquaculture. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of salmon is currently farmed in closed containment due to industry’s overall resistance to change and the profitability of externalizing costs. Externalized costs are currently borne by society or the environment and not by salmon producers, such as ‘free’ waste disposal from open net-cage farms into the marine environment.

Closed containment technology not only enables salmon farming companies to be better, more responsible corporate citizens by minimizing or eliminating externalized impacts, it also eliminates or reduces costly problems inherent to net-cages. For instance, closed containment provides protection against the loss of fish through mass escape events or algae and plankton blooms that can kill farmed fish by the thousands as well as protection from sea lice infestations and disease.

Here are some of examples of closed containment salmon farms in operation or in planning stages:

AgriMarine Holdings Inc. is a Vancouver-based company currently growing salmon in closed containment in BC, and trout in China. A partnership between the Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute and Agrimarine Inc. based in Campbell River BC is developing a floating ocean-based tank facility to raise Pacific chinook salmon. One tank is currently stocked and due to harvest in March 2012. Once complete, the four-tank floating system, situated in the Discovery Islands, is licenced to produce 1,200 metric tonnes of salmon per year. They are also in the process of developing operations in Norway.

Sweet Spring Salmon
Washington-based AquaSeed Corp. raises Pacific Coho salmon in a freshwater land-based closed containment facility under the SweetSpring label. This salmon is the first of its kind to receive a positive ranking from a prestigious sustainable seafood program. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program issued a green “Best Choice” rating on their website for the salmon. This product is sold at the same price point as Atlantic net-cage salmon, yet without the environmental costs, at Overwaitea Food Group stores across BC and Alberta. Building on this success, AquaSeed Corp. is preparing to rapidly expand production and is already working with large purchasers such as Compass Group and Whole Foods.

Teton Fisheries LLC
Envirotech Ag Systems are growing Coho salmon in facilities similar to Sweetspring in two Montana Hutterite communities, supporting local economic stability. The small amount of effluent collected from the operation is used to fertilize vegetable farms in the community.

Swift Aquaculture
Swift Aquaculture is a land-based closed containment fish farming operation based in Agassiz BC. Swift Aquaculture raises eight to ten tonnes of coho salmon per year and uses waste water from the tanks to grow watercress and wasabi. The Coho salmon is available at high-end restaurants in Vancouver. The operation has been sold to Golden Eagle Aquaculture, which will build a new, 1000 MT operation to grow Atlantic Salmon in a land-based recirculating system.

The K’udas Closed Containment Project
The Namgis Nation, in partnership with Save our Salmon, is building a land-based recirculation facility to grow Atlantic Salmon on their land on northern Vancouver Island. It is expected that the first fish will be harvested in the last quarter of 2012, with the sustained production rate of about 315 tonnes per year of 5.5 kg. fish.

Langsand Laks
Langsand Laks operates a 1000 MT Atlantic Salmon land-based recirculation system in construction in Denmark, They are building the facility as they grow the fish. Follow the process at:

Atlantic Sapphire
Atlantic Sapphire, an affiliate of Langsand Laks, is in the planning stages of 3000 MT facility on the east coast of the US. See

Marine Harvest Canada
Marine Harvest Canada has developed a plan for a land based recirculation facility to grow Atlantic Salmon on North Vancouver Island, but has not secured the funding needed to move ahead.

The Freshwater Institute, Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund, an American non-profit, is a leader in research on closed-containment aquaculture systems. Based in Shepherdstown, West Virginia they have 20 years of experience developing closed-containment aquaculture systems to grow trout and perch at their Freshwater Institute. More recently they have also been growing Atlantic salmon to investigate the biological and economic feasibility of raising this fish to market size in freshwater recirculation systems. The Freshwater Institute’s research is aimed at developing a sustainable, environmentally responsible, and economically viable aquaculture industry in the United States.