It will be 21 years in April that Kris McNichol, 48, and his wife Sheryl have owned CPI Equipment Inc. in Parksville, B.C.. They have a family of three daughters and a business that operates on the Inside Passage beside Vancouver Island, "We started from dealing with the aquaculture market in my early 20's working for one of my Dad's companies."
McNichol started CPI Equipment Inc. at age 28 and went into pumps and high density polyethylene (HDPE), "When the first feeding systems arrived on the west coast, I supplied all the HDPE. There isn't an aeration system that I have not either worked on, built, or designed on the west coast in the fish farm industry."
Of the 5000-plus phytoplankton species in the oceans of the world, two percent are harmful little creatures to animals, plants, and humans. These are Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs).
CPI Equipment Inc. supplies aeration to protect fish against low Dissolved Oxygen (DO), and HABs. Today, CPI Equipment Inc. is applying contemporary nanobubble technology to semi-closed containment sites. Fish farmers also mitigate against HAB risk, and, R&D is always underway on B.C.'s west coast, the longest coastline in the world, home to a 30-year history of Atlantic salmon farming. In this particular regard, semi-closed containment creates barriers to HABs, sea lice, and water temperature events.
It's called The Cool Solution, and Atlantic salmon grower Grieg Seafood BC is working with CPI Equipment Inc. in Esperanza Inlet. The data from trials shows the semi-closed containment system stops sea-lice and opens up a deeper water column for feeding and protecting fish, farm Atlantics inside the containment, wild Pacifics outside.
Grieg Seafood BC is converting net pen operations in the Esperanza Inlet to semi-closed containment; there's an informative story in Fish Farmer Magazine on page 54-55
"There is a scientific consensus that the public health, recreation, tourism, fishery, aquaculture, and ecosystem impacts from HABs have all increased over the past several decades." Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms: Insights and perspective - PubMed (nih.gov)
"I remember getting a call at 3 pm with a plankton bloom in Tofino, and working through the night to fuse up all the pipe" says McNichol.
Plankton blooms occur near the surface and aeration systems put in place protect the fish. "In the past seven years we've become a lot smarter about managing the sites."
CPI Equipment Inc. uses the ODiN Titan Aeration system to mitigate harmful Algal blooms using controlled aeration. McNichol says, "Our ODiN Titan System provides data tracking and AI prediction software to track HABs. Water quality is the key, and stabilizing the environment is the goal."
CPI Equipment Inc. is supplying and installing Aeration/Plankton Equipment, Semi Closed Oxygen systems, Ensilage Systems, and Central Pumping for local and International aquaculture operations.
Fish don't like big swings in conditions, including changes in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. "There are a few different sources of oxygen for water bodies, including atmosphere and aquatic plants. Running water (i.e., swift-moving stream) dissolves more oxygen than still water (i.e., pond or lake)." SOURCE: https://gokcecapital.com/dissolved-oxygen
McNichol says, "Minimum DO is over 2 mg/L, to grow and thrive the schools need 5 mg/L, but fish can adapt to it. A swing up or down in a slack tide causes the possibility of a big drop in DO." With a pen full of maturing fish, farm site workers are watchful over DO levels. "Using aeration we can control the dips. They nose into the plume and school around the input DO,” which must be a fascinating sight.
"We position the distribution pods at various depths, and the ODiN tracking system is able to control how many Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) goes to each pod. We reduce the amount of air required, which saves money and allows the farmer to feed through blooms."
McNichol says, "In semi-closed containment which has barriers that can be put in place, our design uses nano generators, and nanobubbles, tiny particle bubbles of oxygen, which rather than shooting to the surface, behave in a brownian motion (erratic random movement) dispersing an abundance of oxygen to multiple levels in the enclosed pen.” Nanobubbles keep their form for hours before ultimately dispersing.
A word about Nanobubbles: Small bubbles, big impact: Nanobubbles for effective deep-water oxygenation and algae control | WALPA: "Nanobubbles. . .due to their exceptionally small size. . . makes them a highly efficient oxygen injection method. . . up to 20x more efficiently than larger bubbles." Normally aeration procedures result in 40 percent of the injected oxygen rising to the surface. "Further, these small bubbles create a mild oxidative impact on collapse that contributes to the direct breakdown of algae and oxidation of organics."
McNichol says, "Then by adding cooler denser water brought up by CPI’s ODiN Titan controlled aeration from below pen level, the nanobubbles fall down, within the semi-closed containment barriers, less oxygen is required overall inside a site." When fish are feeding they are moving faster and burning (thus requiring) more oxygen.
“When the regulators of the fish farm industry are talking about transitions, this process in semi-closed containment is where we see this industry should go," says McNichol.
From the surface to a depth of 10 metres is the area for sea lice threats. Barriers to parasites and HABs provide the ability to move the fish away from HABs in an enclosed column of water.
McNichol has been pleased to work with Grieg Seafoods BC and among others, to meet the industry objectives of sustainable fish producers of a transition, and semi-closed containment.
"Our trial was bigger than any I am aware of, but I stand to be corrected. We did a whole farm, not just a pen. Our data gathering will continue with ODiN tracking. but in BC we lead with aeration solutions."
McNichol likes to say, You can buy a lot of things in life but you cannot buy experience.
DESIGNING SEMI-CLOSED CONTAINMENT WITH
CATEGORIES ON McCOLL MAGAZINE