Saturday, 13 July 2019

Bad News on the Certification Front for Aquaponics in Canada

The following is a from the Aquaponics Association chairman Brian Filopowich:

A negative situation is brewing in Canada that could spread across borders and set back aquaponics’ progress worldwide.

CanadaGAP, a government-recognized food safety certification program, stated that it will withdraw CanadaGAP certification for Aquaponic production effective March 31, 2020.

Unfortunately, the decision appears to be based on faulty and/or incomplete information:

“New information has come to light related to potential chemical hazards (antibiotics, for example) associated with aquaponic production. Further, there may be potential for leafy greens to uptake possible contaminants found in the water from the aquaculture production. Unfortunately, peer-reviewed scientific studies are limited at this time.”

This decision strikes at the heart of all aquaponic growers. We must publish and maintain trustworthy information about our practice to ensure institutional support, rather than opposition.

The Aquaponics Association is currently working with experts to compile the information needed to counter the false assumptions. We will make this information public as soon as possible. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, do you have information or data that supports the food safety of aquaponics? Email us at

At the Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22, we will talk about actions we can take together to support the advancement of aquaponics. And we’ll discuss what our message needs to be to food safety regulators and other policy-makers that affect our practice.

We’re all in this together!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Decoupled Aquaponics

Why Decoupled Aquaponics
Most aquaponic systems are single loop and fully recirculating. This means that the fish and plants exist in a single loop and share the same nutrient rich water. The reason these are the most popular is because they are simple to build and operate. But single loop systems are also a compromise because the plants, fish and bacteria must all be happy in the same solution. So for example, the temperature and pH levels must be maintained at levels that satisfy all the organisms, rather than being optimized for each.
pH is maintained in a range to satisfy fish, plants and bacteria in a single loop system
In a dual loop system, these parameters can be maintained optimally at different levels in each loop. Additionally, if something goes wrong, there are more options to address the situation without affecting everything in the system. So for example, if pests need to be treated on the plant side, it can be done without adversely affecting the fish.

How Decoupled Systems Work
A typical decoupled system consists of a stand-alone RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) loop and a hydroponic plant loop. The sludge from the RAS system is digested in the biological waste system which provides the nutrients for the hydroponic system. Using a digester makes the system more efficient because the nutrients plants need (aside from Nitrogen) are trapped in the solid waste. The aerobic digester (a fancy term for a simple tank with air-stones in it) mineralizes the solid waste, releasing the nutrients the plants need.

A Simple Decoupled System
A small decoupled system can be very easy to build and operate. If an AST bead filter is used, the fish loop is reduced to two components (fish tank and bead filter) because bead filter combines both bio-filtration and very efficient mechanical filtration. It also makes the system very easy to maintain and operate because it is self-cleaning. The following video shows simple the decoupled system can be with an AST bead filter.

The Heart of the System: AST Polygeyser Bead Filter
Although the video above shows a smaller endurance filter, the AST Polygeyser 3 cubic foot automatic backwash bead filter can be used to build a similar system that supports up to 60 mof plant area (900 gallon fish tank with up to 4.5 pounds of feed per day input).

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Urban Organics is Closing

We have written about the Urban Aquaponics in the past. It is located in an old brewery in St. Paul. The sad news is that it is now closing completely by June 14 and letting go 27 employees according to an article in the Star Tribune.

David Haider, left, explains the operation to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
The company was founded in 2013 Dave and Kristen Haider as a smaller operation that catered to local chefs. Pentair approached the couple several years ago about a potential partnership and this led to the massive expansion at the Schmidt Brewery, which was heralded as one of the world’s largest commercial aquaponics systems when it opened in 2017. Pentair bought out the founders, becoming the sole owner, a year ago.

A Pentair spokeswoman said “the realization of the business model did not meet our expectations.” They also said this decision isn’t an indictment on indoor aquaculture as a whole. “We continue to believe there is a long-term strategy for aquaponics in urban areas, however the realization of the business model did not meet our expectations”

Click here for a virtual tour of the facility.

Read more about the closure here ... 

Monday, 22 April 2019

Friday, 15 March 2019

Vertical Indoor Aquaponics Project In the Yukon

Yukon's North Star Agriculture is planning to build an indoor vertical aquaponics farm in the Yukon at a cost of $8 million dollars. The proposed farm will be located near the Takhini Hot Pools so that geothermal energy can be used to reduce energy costs by at least a third. The farm would not only produce fish and plants, but would also generate income from agro-tourism.

Matt Douglas and Sonny Gray of North Star Agriculture, with development permits to begin building an aquaponics facility in the Takhini hot springs area. (North Star Agriculture, source
The Whitehorse company is partnering with and receiving some funding from Edmonton-based NutraPonics. They also hope to partner with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.


Chief Andy Carvill of Carcross-Tagish First Nation says he's confident construction will begin soon. (David Common/ CBC)

Friday, 15 February 2019

Making BC's Salmon Farms More Sustainable

The federal government is keen to help transition B.C. salmon farms to designs and technologies that address nagging environmental concerns, says Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The key is to address the huge cost difference between net-pen farms and alternative systems by supporting the development of sustainable farms, he said.

“There may be levers we can pull to help close that gap in the same way that we did with solar and renewable energy over the past couple of decades,” the North Vancouver MP said in an interview.

A fast-tracked study of aquaculture technology — funded by the federal and provincial governments with the participation of First Nations and the aquaculture industry — will help identify how that support will be applied.

The study, to be delivered in May, will look at ways the industry around the world is able to minimize interaction between wild and farmed salmon, including land-based farms, ocean-based closed containment, and open-ocean and off-shore farms.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says that with better technology ‘there is an opportunity to significantly grow the industry and make Canada an even bigger player in aquaculture.
“Based on what we find, there will be opportunities for the government to participate in large-scale and medium-scale demonstrations of technology that looks promising — that’s exactly what Sustainable Development Technology Canada does,” said Wilkinson.

With better technology “there is an opportunity to significantly grow the industry and make Canada an even bigger player in aquaculture,” he said.

Canada’s economic strategy calls for aquaculture production to nearly double from 2016’s output of 200,000 tonnes to 382,000 tonnes by 2028. This province produces more than two-thirds of Canada’s farmed salmon and it is B.C.’s biggest value food export by a wide margin.

The study, and the creation of Canada’s first aquaculture act, signal a new dedication to “the precautionary principle,” said Wilkinson.

“We are moving toward area-based management which means moving to sites that are more environmentally suitable, where communities are supportive and — in the long run — looking at closed-containment technology and how we get to the point where those (designs) are economically viable,” said Wilkinson.

Read more here (source The Province)

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Aquaponic Evening Workshop at UBC Farm March 21, 2019

This 1.5 hour workshop is an introduction to Aquaponics. It will be held at the UBC farm and is only $25 for students ($29 regular price). Click to find out more

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Update on Aquaponic Organic Certification in Canada

Recently, the Standards Council of Canada published a new organic standard for aquaculture to help make organic seafood more widely recognizable. However, this label presents its own set of challenges when it comes to organic certification. Most importantly, vegetables and fruits grown in aquaponic systems can be certified organic under the organic aquaculture standard, even though this would not be allowed under the Canadian Organic Standards (COS). Understandably, this has created some challenges.

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, aquaponic products can now be legally labelled as organic if they are certified by an approved certifying body in accordance with the organic aquaculture standard. According to the CFIA, producers are encouraged to provide voluntary information about which standard the product was certified under. Organic labelling is necessary if a company wishes to export its products outside of its province of production. However, since aquaponics are newly regulated, aquaponic producers will get a grace period of 24 months once the Regulations come into effect on Jan. 15, 2019, during which organic producers will not have to be certified.

Original Source: by Will Baigent & Cecilia Stuart

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

10,000 Square Foot Indoor Vertical Aquaponics Farm in Calgary

Deepwater Farms in Calgary raises 900 kilograms of Australian sea bass (or barramundi) every month. The waste is broken down with micro-organisms to create nitrates that fertilize the more than a million seedlings grown less than every two weeks under LED lights in the facility. They were recently featured in this CBC video and article.

Deepwater supplies the top restaurants in Calgary with baby kale, arugula, watercress, red pac choi, mustard greens.


Friday, 16 November 2018

Only One Third Of Canada's Fish Stocks are Healthy and They Continue to Decline

Oceana Canada's 2018 Fishery Audit is available for download here.

Below is an executive summary:

Oceana Canada’s first annual Fishery Audit in 2017 revealed that our fish stocks are not delivering nearly as much as they could, for oceans or for people.

In 2017, only one-third of our stocks were considered healthy. Of the 26 critically depleted populations, only three had rebuilding plans in place. Big gaps remained in the data required to manage stocks effectively.

One year later, some progress has been made. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has made significant investments in federal fisheries science, and the department continues to increase transparency by releasing its annual Sustainability Survey for Fisheries and departmental work plans.

However, much more work needs to be done if our seafood industry is going to reach its potential.

Recent investments in federal fisheries science capacity has not yet yielded measurable change in the reported metrics. DFO is falling behind on implementing work plans developed in response to the Auditor General’s 2016 report. For example, four of five rebuilding plans promised by March 2018 remain incomplete. Key policy instruments have not been fully implemented or remain in draft form, including the proposed Fishery Monitoring Policy. Meanwhile, scientific and management information produced by DFO is often published late or not at all.

On the water, there have been few changes in stock health. This is to be expected: it takes time for investments in science and policy to be reflected in measurable changes in the abundance of fish populations. However, the slow pace of policy implementation means the long-term decline in Canada’s fish stocks has not yet been halted, let alone reversed.

Oceana Canada has recommended specific actions — detailed here — to address issues raised in this Audit. These include completing work plans and rebuilding plans, filling data gaps and finalizing a national catch-monitoring policy.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Charlie Shultz Interview - Sustainable Controlled Environment Food Production

This is episode 23 of the Get in My Garden Podcast. Today we have another very special episode. The subject is Controlled Environment Agriculture. We meet Charlie Shultz, a researcher, farmer and teacher; a pioneer in the field of aquaponics and lead faculty in the very impressive Controlled Environment Agriculture Program at Santa Fe Community College.

Charlie began working with fish and plants as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech while double majoring in Biology and Fishery Science. His work has sent him to many locations including 14 years at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he researched indoor aquaponics production and its many facets from nutrition and system economics.

We will cover a lot of topics from aquaponics systems vs hydroponics, their economics, food security and water supply challenges the world faces, and how these controlled environment agriculture systems are the solution.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

UN Warns of Overfishing as Per-Capita Consumption Hits All-time High

A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that per capita fish consumption is above 20 kilograms a year for the first time. Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested at biologically unsustainable levels. But the good news is that a growth in rapid aquaculture has helped on the supply side, but population growth and demand are still outpacing supply. This represents an opportunity for sustainable food productions systems like aquaponics.

Download the full report here

This chart shows the increasing rate of overfishing

This chart shows how aquaculture has made up the difference for the increasing demand

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

BC Government Sets 2022 Deadline For Open-Pen Fish Farms

The B.C. government will not cancel provincial tenures for 20 coastal open-pen fish farms, instead giving the industry and its thousands of jobs a four-year reprieve while the province waits for Ottawa to take the lead on the issue.

The NDP government has been pressuring fish farms to switch to closed land-based facilities, where there’s no risk to wild salmon. But the industry has said it’s not financially feasible. The province intends to encourage more research on land-based fish farms during the four-year transition.

Read more here (Vancouver Sun original source)

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) applauded the announcement in the following press release.

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – June 20, 2018) The UBCIC applauds today’s announcement as an initial step on the pathway to preserve and safeguard the future of wild salmon consistent with the rights, cultural practices and economic livelihoods of many First Nations throughout BC.

Today’s announcement recognizes the significant role wild salmon play in the cultures, lives and economies of First Nations peoples throughout the province. The province has begun to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by recognizing the authority of our Indigenous decision-making processes and our rights to grant or withhold our free, prior and informed consent to projects which impact our title and rights.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC, states “Open net-pen finfish aquaculture presents a very real threat to wild salmon, First Nations communities and to the economy of British Columbia. These new requirements, which necessitate industry-First Nations protocol agreements and which place the onus on salmon farmers to prove their operations present less than minimal risk to wild salmon populations, are years overdue. If wild salmon are to survive, this industry needs to move to on-land closed containment facilities.”

The UBCIC further supports the appointment of the new Wild Salmon Advisory Council, and awaits with great anticipation the Council’s final report and encourages the province to provide the necessary resources to ensure the report is enacted.

For many years the UBCIC has been mandated through resolutions to advocate for the removal of Atlantic salmon fish farms from our coast for the benefit of our wild salmon populations. In September of 2018, the UBCIC in partnership with the BCAFN will be hosting the 2018 Wild Salmon Summit to develop a First Nations designed province-wide strategy to safeguard this important species for future generations.

Media inquiries: Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President, UBCIC
C: 778 988 9282

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Aquaponics Workshop at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley BC

KPU's Faculty of Science & Horticulture is offering an aquaponics workshop on June 23 on the Langley, BC campus.

Topics covered include:

  • How it Works: the science behind aquaponics
  • Overview: learn about the different kinds of systems from tabletop to commercial farms
  • System Design: best practices, sizing components, optimal ratios
  • System Cycling: starting up a new system without stressing your fish
  • Running a System: day to day operation including water quality testing, pH management, oxygen and other parameters
  • The Organisms: plants, fish, and bacteria
  • The Environment: greenhouses, lights, humidity, air quality, and growing indoors

Attendees will also be provided with an electronic package of resources that will help them continue their journey of learning and growing sustainably with aquaponics, as well as a Certificate of Completion from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Saturday, June 23 | 10am-1pm | KPU Langley Campus | $99 ppture is sponsoring an aquaponics workshop on June 23 on the Langley campus.

Click here for tickets

Pics of KPU Faculty of Science and Horticulture