A. As farmers, we raise salmon from egg to plate on properly licensed and regulated farms in the pristine waters of the Bay of Fundy, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Maine. Much like humans and animals that are farmed on land, farmed fish are susceptible to infectious pathogens and parasites that occur naturally in the environment.
Heritage Salmon uses a preventative approach to disease and health management through good husbandry and feeding methods at every stage of the fish life cycle. We are only permitted to move healthy fish from our hatcheries to the ocean. Once fish are moved to the ocean farm, they are protected by the 3-bay management system of crop rotation, site fallowing and strict bio-security measures, by routine monitoring by fish health professionals and by our humane harvesting and transportation procedures. We never give antibiotics as a preventative measure or use growth enhancing hormones on our fish. Antibiotics are used sparingly and under strictly controlled conditions when prescribed by a veterinarian to cure an infection. When antibiotics are used, we follow specified withdrawal periods and fish are tested for tolerance levels of residue prior to harvest. The maximum residue limits for medicines are specified by the FDA in the United States, by the Food Inspection Agency in Canada and are equivalent to the measures that apply to the use of medicines in other food animals.
We follow an industry Code of Practice and comply with a complex system of federal and provincial regulations on fish health, environmental management, food safety and food traceability matters.
A. The orange to red colour of wild or farmed salmon is caused by the presence of carotenoid pigments. Carotenoid pigments are important in salmon and human nutrition, since they are important antioxidants.
Wild salmon eat krill, zooplankton, small fish and crustaceans which contain carotenoids. These natural coloring agents are absorbed by the salmon and they color the muscle of the fish as well as the eggs. In nature, there are many naturally occurring carotenoids for example in carrots. The type of carotenoids found in fish is known as xanthophylls and include astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Salmon are unable to synthesise these pigments, they must take them in as part of their diets. In farmed salmon the pigments may come from crustaceans, from yeast culture or from nature identical products - all are approved for addition to the diet of farmed salmon and of trout.
A. Heritage Salmon is humane and gentle in protecting its stocks against natural threats throughout their growth cycle.
When taking care of its broodstock (parent fish) as well as its eggs and fry, Heritage Salmon ensures that strict bio-security measures are followed by all employees and visitors to our fresh water sites. Everyone must disinfect their hands as well as footwear before entering any sites as well as disinfect at specific stages throughout the visit.
When stocking fish in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, Heritage Salmon enlists the help of GMG, our equipment manufacturing division, to contain the salmon as well as protect them from natural elements and predators. GMG designs and builds cages, mooring systems to keep the farm and the fish secure. It also builds nets from tough materials like Dyneema, which is used to make bullet proof vests, to contain the fish, let a free flow of oxygen through and keep predators out.
A. Sea lice occur naturally in the Bay of Fundy and on the Atlantic coast and were present long before fish farming began. Two species affect wild salmon as they migrate from the open ocean to rivers for spawning. When commercial farming began, the health status of farmed fish became important so it is much easier to monitor than that of the wild population. As a result, we are more aware of impact, biology and control of such pests on farmed fish. We keep sea lice infections on our farms to a minimum using good husbandry and advanced site management processes and some biological and medicinal control under the direction and supervision of our veterinarians. These measures are necessary to safeguard the health of the surrounding environment and the welfare of our salmon.
The Atlantic Salmon Federation, a conservation organization dedicated to saving wild Atlantic salmon, monitors wild salmon on the Magaguadavic River near Bay of Fundy aquaculture sites. They report that the organization's research in the Bay of Fundy shows that sea lice from farms are not infecting wild salmon.
Heritage Salmon maintains an on-site sea lice monitoring program as a necessary part of keeping our animals healthy and of doing business. We also support research on sea lice biology and management and collaborates with veterinarians, government and scientists by providing access to farms for important research projects.
A. Salmon do escape from farms; however the percentage of escapees is extremely low. An escapee usually occurs during handling or moving of nets, extreme weather conditions, predator attacks or vandalism. Through our partnership with GMG and innovative equipment design, we have been able to create state-of-the-art containment systems that have minimized escapes and have even allowed our farms to survive hurricane force storms.
A. An algal bloom is an increase in algae in an ocean or fresh water system. Some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water and can happen rather quickly. There is no scientific proof or support for Salmon Farming having been the cause for any algal bloom. Because our fish are affected by algal blooms we partner in monitoring and research programs with local scientists.
A. Maintaining the health and welfare of our fish is crucial. To have the best-tasting fish, you must be committed to taking care of them. We ensure that our fish are free from hunger, discomfort, pain and injury, fear and distress and that they have the freedom to practice normal behaviour. To aid in this, maximum stocking densities at our sites are set to be no higher than 2-3%. This allows fish to behave normally and swim freely in their natural environment.