Closed containment

Exploring new technologies

Closed containment describes a range of technologies for aquaculture; from floating bag systems to land-based recirculating water systems. Closed containment is a barrier technology that attempts to restrict and control interactions between farmed fish and the external aquatic environment. The technological focus is on reducing the potentially adverse interactions between cultured fish and the surrounding aquatic environment.

In general, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s policy regarding the ongoing development of aquaculture is to remain technology neutral, whereby the Department encourages innovation and the development of many new technologies, including closed containment systems, to help achieve sustainable resource development objectives.

The National Aquaculture Strategic Action Plan Initiative, developed under the leadership of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, supports the Department’s efforts to achieve an economically, environmentally ,and socially sustainable aquaculture industry. The objectives of the action plan initiative, such as modernizing aquaculture management and enhancing public and investor confidence in aquaculture, provide further support for researching and developing new and more sustainable technologies.

A commitment to understanding

In advancing sustainable aquaculture development and production, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is actively involved in completing studies and fostering an understanding of various technologies through direct contributions to diverse projects. For closed containment, these include research projects on innovative waste collectors, filters, and re-circulating systems for the production of a variety of fish species.

As part of its commitment to an in-depth understanding of emerging technologies, the Department has assessed the technical feasibility of closed containment methods for salmon aquaculture, sourcing input and information from 60 international experts. This peer-review of six working papers was led by Fisheries and Oceans through the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, which is the Department's primary scientific review process.

Final Report: Potential Technologies for Closed Containment Saltwater Salmon Aquaculture

The Department has also conducted an economic analysis of a model, commercial-scale closed containment facility. The study concluded that while closed containment production of adult Atlantic salmon has the potential for financially feasibility, it is very susceptible to a range of commercial variables that could quickly make it uneconomical. This economic analysis, along with the technical review and other ongoing research efforts, will continue to inform the Department’s management and policy decisions.

Feasibility Study of Closed Containment Options for the British Columbia Aquaculture Industry

Applied research

In Canada, and around the world, efforts continue to advance the understanding of closed containment technology through the development of full-scale test facilities. Companies in Europe, the United States, and Asia are all developing commercial-scale closed containment facilities for a range of aquatic species.

Here in Canada, closed containment is predominantly used for hatchery production to supply the aquaculture industry with stock. However, a pilot project in British Columbia, partly funded under the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program, is exploring the real-world feasibility of adult salmon production to validate the assumptions and findings of the financial feasibility study.

Industry-led initiatives will continue to play a major role in the advancement of closed containment and other aquaculture production technologies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada takes an ongoing interest in these developments and encourages the sharing of information between all parties.

Moving forward

While challenges remain, closed containment represents one of the many emerging areas that may hold potential for sustainable aquaculture development. Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to assess all forms of technology from an environmental, economic, social, and technical standpoint by constantly updating and reassessing research and results. To this end, the Department will continue to encourage research and development into innovative new technologies, such as closed containment aquaculture systems.