AgriMarine was originally in the business of salmon aquaculture off the coast of Vancouver Island, B.C using conventional open-net pen systems. Farmed fish in net cage operations, however, raised environmental concerns as there is a potential of the spread of diseases to wild fish and escapes that then intermingle with wild stocks. Negative experiences with stock losses due to external environmental events such as toxic algae blooms, which are common in the net cage industry, led the team at AgriMarine to develop technology that mitigates these risks.
In 2000, when the BC government began to look at alternative technologies to open-net pen systems, AgriMarine changed its focus to pursue sustainable aquaculture technologies. Selected by the B.C. government to study a solid-wall containment, land-based fish-farming system located at Cedar on Vancouver Island, the Company proved, after the four-year trial period, the viability of raising healthy salmon in a solid-wall containment system. Branded under “Eco-Salmon”, the salmon produced from the Cedar Project was sold to food service and retail distributors including Thrifty Foods, the Earl’s Restaurant chain, and Ocean Beauty Seafood’s Inc. The Cedar Project, however, also demonstrated that land-based systems are expensive due to high energy operating expenses, land values, the cost of construction of land-based tanks and the difficulty in building tanks large enough to hold an economically viable amount of fish.
The lessons learned from the Cedar Project led AgriMarine to partner with the Middle Bay Sustainable Aquaculture Institute (“MBSAI”) and foundations including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (“SDTC”), to design a floating solid-wall tank system for the Middle Bay demonstration facility located in Campbell River, B.C. The Company has also worked with environmental groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, the Coast Sustainable Trust and the Georgia Strait Alliance. The resulting proprietary technology, the AgriMarine System™, is a commercial scale, environmentally sustainable, solid-wall containment flow-through fish farm system intended to demonstrate the technological, ecological, and economic viability of these fish rearing systems in sea water. The Company also utilizes the AgriMarine System™ in its trout and salmon farm in a freshwater reservoir in Benxi, China.