Robert Walker is the Chief Operating Officer of AgriMarine Holdings, leading the operators of a Canadian-based aquaculture company that specializes in fish farming and in developing sustainable technologies for commercial aquaculture applications. The Company operates its farming division through West Coast Fishculture (Lois Lake) Ltd., and its technology division through AgriMarine Technologies Inc.
AgriMarine’s technology subsidiary, AgriMarine Technologies Inc. (ATI) is a leading innovator of aquaculture systems, dedicated to the development of sustainable technology systems and solutions for commercial applications around the world. ATI develops cutting-edge, clean technology, including pioneering floating semi-closed containment technology (the AgriMarine System™ tanks), recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), floating semi-closed raceways, and components for land-based and net cage farming. ATI provides a full range of consulting and design-build services to new and existing aquaculture projects worldwide.
Walker says, "ATI is a Canadian-based Clean Technology developer and consulting company that provides practical solutions and a full range of consulting and design-build services to new and existing aquaculture projects worldwide. ATI lets clients focus on their operations while partnering with a team of technology developers and consultants who understand the challenges and opportunities inherent in aquaculture. We customize our designs to meet the specific needs of our clients, for a variety of species and rearing environments, anywhere in the world."
Their technologies include:
• AgriMarine System™ Floating Semi-Closed Containment Tanks
• Floating semi-closed raceways designs
• Deep Injection O2 system (DIOS)
• Dissolved Oxygen Sensor (DOS) and dissolved gas management systems
• Ceramic Membrane Micro Bubble Diffuser – for large aquaculture systems
• AgriMarine 42”Axial Pump - custom engineered pump for low head/high capacity pumping requirements
• AVCAM Aquaculture Camera – an underwater live feed monitoring camera
• Autonomous Control of Aquaculture Systems
• Aquaculture bio-product conversion to fertilizer
• Nutrient recovery and de-watering
Their services include:
• Feasibility studies
• Complete design and build services
• Design and construction of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)
• Design and construction of aquaponics systems
• Site specific farm management system development
• After-sales service, training, maintenance and support
• Offshore mooring system design
• Computational Fluid Dynamics
• Water treatment solutions
The AgriMarine SystemTM floating semi-closed containment tanks combine the environmental and husbandry benefits of land-based fish farming with the low operational costs of open net pen aquaculture. Solutions for:
• Sea lice
• Toxic algae blooms
• Low dissolved oxygen water
• Dead zone water
• High water temperatures
• Ideal for post-smolt to full grow-out
Providing Innovative Technology Solutions for the Toughest Aquaculture Challenges -- Key Features of the AgriMarine SystemTM:
• Energy efficiency with low head, high flow pump
• Semi-Closed system for effective management of rearing environment
• Able to operate in fresh and salt water environments in any temperature
• Adjustable intake depth for source water temperature control
• Integrated oxygen supplementation and control systems
• Demonstrated sea lice reduction
• Improved feed utilization
• Ideally suited for post-smolt production
• Technology tested and proven for salmon and trout; also suitable for sea bream, sea bass, barramundi, sable fish, sturgeon and other species
AgriMarine Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) are affordable, scalable systems. Walker says, "ATI is developing RAS technologies for applications where water access is restricted or where limited water resources are available for land-based farm production. RAS systems allow water quality of the rearing environment to be controlled, thus accelerating fish growth and crop turnover, while minimizing the entry of pathogens." Biofiltration, gas balancing, oxygenation, solids removal, UV and ozone disinfection and heat recovery are just a few features of the system
Floating Semi-Closed Raceway Technology designed and delivered by ATI provides the same control over water quality as circular containment systems but can be deployed in smaller water bodies such as sheltered inlets, lakes, rivers, man-made ponds and rehabilitated gravel pits. The features are:
• Easy to implement, affordable systems
• Efficient use of limited water resources
• Control of dissolved oxygen levels, temperature and water velocity
• Biofiltration and oxygen enhancement
• Efficient removal of settleable solids
• Simplifies handling and grading fish
"The high transfer efficiency oxygenation at low power is a challenge for farmers," says Walker. "Deepwater Injection Oxygenation System (DIOS) was developed to oxygenate water at a lower power consumption. Initially developed for fresh water applications, this system may be used in either fresh or ocean water. Key features of the DIOS:
• Provides a high transfer efficiency for oxygen supplementation
• Outfitted with adjustable ports that allow users to draw water from surface down to 30 metres depth, which provides temperature modulation and avoidance of deleterious biota at certain depths
• May be adaptable for a variety of applications to achieve the oxygenation needs of an individual site and species farmed
"Typical oxygen stones corrode in ocean waters and are difficult to clean. Gas Diffusion Systems (GDS) are serviceable systems that can be taken apart during cleaning cycles and offer a full range of replacement parts" says Walker. "Our diffusers are designed for many oxygen and gas transfer applications, from waste water to fish farming and everything in-between." Walker says bubble creation is important for processes such as oxygenation in fish farms and finer bubble diffusers have been proven to provide the best solution for increasing oxygen transfer efficiency. The Micro Bubble Diffuser was designed by ATI for many oxygen and gas transfer applications. "Robust and easily serviceable, our Micro Bubble Diffusers feature ceramic membranes which are interchangeable and may be refurbished multiple times before replacement is necessary."
Key Features of the GDS are:
• Stainless steel housings which enables for indefinite operation in both salt and fresh water environments
• 50-micron-pore-sized ceramic diffusers
• Robust design for durability and 8kg weight ensures stability
• Diffusers with a 60 square inch surface area
• Bubbling pressure to a maximum 50 psi
• Lower pressure differential in order to save power
• Easy to install, dismantle, clean and replace
Axial 42” Aquaculture Pump -- Key Features of the Axial 42” Pump:
• Superior high performance Axial Pump
• Sophisticated design that transfers high volume water with low head
• With small size adjustments, the applications are unlimited (where large quantities of water are required to move with low head such as waterworks, water supply, drainage and irrigation)
• Pump efficiency up to 85%
• Durable and robust construction for long life
• Reliable and proven performance
• Diverse aquaculture applications
The AgriMarine 42” Axial Pump was custom engineered for low head/high capacity pumping requirements, typically in hatcheries and land-based recirculation systems (RAS), or where large amounts of water need to be moved. The pump may be engineered to suit your requirements, ensuring cost-efficiency and superior performance.
Cloud Based Autonomous Control of Aquaculture Systems -- This monitoring and control system provides remote user access for both monitoring and adjustment of rearing environment control systems. ATI developed the system to provide autonomous control of computers and equipment. The system ensures that computers can make rapid adjustments without the need for someone present at a farm site 24/7. Local data is uploaded to a cloud server which allows for remote access to data in real time, letting the farmer monitor a farm remotely, anytime of the day. Cloud servers send out text messages to farmers to alert them of any issues.
Key Features of Cloud Based Autonomous Control system:
• Wireless communication between devices makes this system unique
• Modular set up allows easy incorporation into existing systems
• Monitors variables, sensors and pumps for instruments, and provides automated controls based on variables and parameters set
• Currently developing new wireless sensors that can be battery-powered and are easily connected without the need for power
• Data hosting is also available
AVCAM Live Feed Monitoring Camera -- Key Features of the AVCAM:
• AVCAM Camera offers high resolution under low light conditions
• Auto-switch from colour to black & white under low light
• Affordable, robust receptacle
• Permanent installation for hatcheries, rearing tanks and cages
• Live feed monitoring - our AVCAM Camera connects to the AVCAM Camera Cart monitor
• Sharp video imaging
Feed management is integral to all aquaculture operations. ATI designed the AVCAM stationary underwater feeding camera with flexibility and efficiency in mind. "Our stationary cameras provide live feed monitoring with high visibility under low light conditions, so that farmers can easily detect uneaten feed."
AgriMarine's ATI works in aquaculture around the world. Recent Projects Include:
• Innovative design and first to farm Pacific Salmon in China: ATI pioneered the concept of floating semi-closed containment and completed the installation of six AgriMarine System™ tanks in a fresh water reservoir in Northern China
• Year round operation: The six tanks operate during high heat and freezing temperatures for the rearing of trout and crops of Pacific Salmon
• State-of-the-Art Hatchery: ATI conducted the expansion and modernization of a 600 m3 bio-secured, Benxi Trout Hatchery
• Installation of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems tanks, segregated into multiple zones and raceways in the hatchery
• Pilot Project: Designed and tested a Pilot AgriMarine System™ tank for marine applications off Vancouver Island , BC
• Continuous Innovation: Completed Versions 1.5 and 2 of the AgriMarine System™ and installed six tanks at West Coast Fishculture Steelhead farm in Powell River, BC
• Floating Raceway Project: Launched a unique project in Ontario to demonstrate the effectiveness of floating raceway technology for the production of Rainbow trout in man-made water bodies
• RAS Salmon Hatchery: New Construction for facilities at Big Tree Creek Hatchery and Wolf Creek Hatchery
• Full RAS systems for sturgeon and caviar production for Target Marine Industries
• Post Smolt Project: Completed the sale and installation of two AgriMarine System™ tanks for the Norwegian salmon farming industry.
• The tanks are being utilized in a post-smolt pilot project in Norway with a local smolt producer
Other International Consulting Projects
• Chilean Salmon Hatchery Reuse Conversion
• National Conservation Training Center(NCTC)— West Virginia, USA
• RAS project for Mingo County Restoration Authority
• First Nations aquaculture projects in Canada and proposed projects in Europe (Albania, Turkey), Latin America (Mexico, Chile, Peru, Ecuador), Mongolia, Namibia, and the Middle East (Iran, UAE)
In West Coast Fishculture (Lois Lake) Ltd., the ATI operations include growing Lois Lake Steelhead, a fish that is undeniably healthy, unbelievably tasty.
Established in 1973, "We continue to raise our fish today with the same care and attention to detail that has made our Company well-known for quality and sustainability," says Walker. "Experience has taught us that our premium Lois Lake Steelhead is the result of the ideal combination of healthy broodstock, clean waters and carefully selected feed that meets the nutritional needs of our fish."
Lois Lake Steelhead conforms to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct. "We have worked closely over the years with the Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise™ program which recommends Lois Lake Steelhead as a good alternative. These are the attributes that make our product unique. We are proud of our farm."
Against the backdrop of British Columbia’s majestic Coast mountains and surrounded by old growth forests and the ocean waters of the Strait of Georgia, "Our farm lies in the deep, cold, clean waters of Lois Lake, near the city of Powell River. Our Lois Lake Steelhead are fed with high-grade sustainable feeds that contain high levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Reared in a stress-free environment, our Lois Lake Steelhead are harvested at approximately 5 lbs, processed in-house and immediately chilled to the core to ensure maximum quality and freshness."
Walker says, "The cycle of rearing and harvesting takes about 2 years. Eating our BC-farmed Steelhead salmon ensures that you will always be guaranteed a fresh, highly nutritional and flavourful fish that is reared sustainably in an environmentally friendly facility by people who are committed to working with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ program."
Unlike most farmed animals, there are absolutely no growth hormones used in the production of Lois Lake Steelhead salmon. "Our Steelhead salmon is not given antibiotics in the feed, so the fish do not contain antibiotics. our fish are only fed with high-grade sustainable feeds."
The vital nutrients that give salmon a pink colour are included in the feed of Steelhead salmon and are called carotenoids. No artificial dyes are used. The deep, cold, clean waters of Lois Lake provide the ideal environment for raising excellent flavoured and textured salmon. Walker says, "Our Lois Lake Steelhead is regulated by federal, provincial and municipal authorities to ensure that they maintain the highest standard of environmental responsibility. Lois Lake's naturally high flushing allows for continuous cleaning and enables us to raise Steelhead throughout the year, providing year round availability."