Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA and co-chair of B.C.’s Wild Salmon Advisory Council, left, and Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, listen as Steve Atkinson, A Taste of B.C. president, speaks during a fisheries and aquaculture funding announcement at Pacific Biological Station on Thursday. CHRIS BUSH/ The News Bulletin

Nanaimo fish farm gets federal cash to cut carbon footprint

Land-based steelhead farm switching to solar water heating, eliminating oil-fired boiler

A Nanaimo fish farming company will go solar thanks to an injection of federal cash.

Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard was at the Pacific Biological Station Thursday to sprinkle cash to the fisheries and aquaculture industry on the Island.

Wilkinson announced about $1.1 million was coming from the $20-million fisheries and aquaculture clean technology adoption program, a four-year program created to help businesses incorporate clean technologies into their operations.

“For the commercial fishing sector this funding is helping harvesters adopt alternative clean technology to power their vessels, to make modifications to their equipment and fishing practices and to adopt technologies to improve catch monitoring,” Wilkinson said in his address. “For the aquaculture sector, it is helping to improve the industry’s environment for productivity and performance by increasing the use of energy-efficient equipment, by integrating technologies, such as solar power and by implementing waste management upgrades.”

Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA and co-chair of B.C.’s Wild Salmon Advisory Council, announced an additional $183,448 contribution from the province.

The money will be spread among 15 projects on the Island, Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, which included a project by Nanaimo land-based fish farm Taste of B.C. Aquafarms, which received $43,488 to install a solar water heating system that will replace an oil-fired boiler that will eliminate the farm’s oil consumption and shrink its carbon footprint.

Steve Atkinson, company president, said how much money the system will save the company will depend on temperature averages throughout each year.

The company, which began production in 2013, produces about 100 tonnes of steelhead salmon sold in markets locally and internationally.

“It’s going to save us about 17 tonnes of carbon … We’ve completely eliminated the oil this year and that’ll be it. We’ll go solar and I hope, long-term, we’ll add some solar electric as well,” Atkinson said. “I really have not calculated the dollar saving because this project isn’t really about dollars and cents. It’s really about carbon footprint. We’ve really calculated on BTUs. How many BTUs are we producing through solar and it’s about 10 per cent of our carbon footprint.”

Atkinson said without the federal and provincial money the company would not have installed solar water heating.

“The capital cost of solar, the payback is still about 20 years,” He said. “These technologies, they’re great idea, but in this climate it’s really hard to make a business case for doing it on a purely financial basis and when it comes to a small business, purely financial comes first because we have to survive.”

To learn more about the funding announcement and the companies and organizations that will benefit, click here.
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