Swanger Cove hatch­ery up and run­ning

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY CINDY COX

Af­ter six years of plan­ning, Cooke Aqua­cul­ture’s salmon hatch­ery in Swanger Cove, St. Al­ban’s, is now in op­er­a­tion.

The $7.5-mil­lion, 38,000-square-foot fa­cil­ity uses re­cir­cu­la­tion tech­nol­ogy, which means 99.3 per cent of the water gets reused. The hatch­ery’s fil­tra­tion sys­tem clears solids and gases from the water be­fore it gets pumped back into the tanks.

Ju­ve­nile At­lantic salmon started ar­riv­ing at the hatch­ery this fall, trans­ported from the Daniel’s Har­bour hatch­ery, which in­cu­bates and hatches eggs be­fore send­ing fish on to St. Al­ban’s.

The hatch­ery has 16 fish tanks but only 10 are oper­a­tional so far. They con­tain 1.5 mil­lion, 20- to 30-gram At­lantic salmon, with about 100,000 fish in each tank.

As they grow they some will be moved into the other tanks. The hatch­ery will be able to pro­duce up to 3 mil­lion 100-gram smolts per year.

The fish there now will be grown un­til June 2012, when they will be big enough to be sent to ocean farms.

Hatch­ery man­ager Jim Mur­phy said “They are 100-120 grams when they go out to the cages.

“They are out the bay for around 18-24 months, giv­ing them chance to grow to a nice size and then ready for mar­ket.”

The hatch­ery’s com­puter sys­tem mon­i­tors the site so staff can see what’s go­ing on with the fish and the water – they can pin­point if the fish enough oxy­gen, the amount per tank, and en­sure the pumps are work­ing prop­erly. They can also change the amount of salt in the water.

Mr. Mur­phy said “This is truly a tremen­dous tool to have and helps us to see what’s al­ways go­ing on with the fish at all times.”

Ten peo­ple work at the hatch­ery, but more will be hired as the need arises.

Chuck Brown, a spokesman for Cooke Aqua­cul­ture, said the com­pany is proud of the hatch­ery.

“This hatch­ery rep­re­sents the com­pany’s long-term com­mit­ment to the Coast of Bays.”

Cooke Aqua­cul­ture is one of the top five salmon com­pa­nies in the world, with more than 2,500 em­ploy­ees in At­lantic Canada, Maine, Chile and Spain.

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