Aquaculture firms to the fore in the fight against COVID-19

“We are actively seeking additional ways we can make a true difference in helping our communities weather this storm as we stand together against COVID-19.” – Shawn Hall, BCSFA

By Fabian Dawson

Aquaculture giants in British Columbia and around the world are pivoting some of their operations and donating much needed resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are actively seeking additional ways we can make a true difference in helping our communities weather this storm as we stand together against COVID-19,” said Shawn Hall, spokesperson for the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood and Mowi Canada West are donating hydrogen peroxide to Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery, which is world renowned for its artisanal whisky, vodka and gin.

Shelter Point has suspended its distilling operations in order to switch production to manufacturing medical grade sanitizer to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have retooled and gone from single malt to sanitizer in a matter of days,” said the company on its Facebook site.

It is currently supplying sanitizer in 750ml bottles and 20 litre containers with “distillers working double shifts over the weeks and months ahead to produce enough sanitizer to supply as many health authorities, hospitals, medical centres, municipal and provincial services as possible.

“Our number one priority is to ensure that first responders have ample supplies in order to do their jobs and save lives,” the company said.

Hydrogen peroxide or H2O2 is a chemical compound that’s a combination of hydrogen and water. It is one of the longest-running and most widely solutions used for delousing treatments employed by salmon aquaculture. When hydrogen peroxide hits the sea, it breaks down into its natural components – hydrogen and oxygen – making it one of the most environmentally friendly solutions available.

Mowi Canada West is also continuing and increasing their weekly donations to food banks and soup kitchens.

The company’s Chilean division has handed over its main laboratory facilities to enable the country’s health authorities to carry out up to 1,000 tests a day on coronavirus samples.

The lab, based in the southern part of the country, will receive samples beginning in the first week of April, according to the company.

Central Vancouver Island-based CPI Equipment Inc., which designs, manufactures and installs aquaculture aeration systems worldwide, has put together a cleaning and disinfecting task force to combat the spread of COVID-19 within salmon farm site houses.

Kris McNichol, the company’s president, said he is trying to help people who are being laid off get some work.

“These teams can pivot to cleaning and disinfecting other facilities if the need arises,” he said.

Inspired by the dedication of his nurse daughter, McNichol has also ordered 2,000 disposable face masks to be distributed to healthcare workers on Vancouver Island.

The B.C. government last week announced that food cultivation, including farming, livestock, aquaculture and fishing, and businesses that support the food supply chain as essential services during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Hall said the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association has accepted an invitation to sit as a member within the newly formed COVID-19 Cabinet.

The group will work collectively to share information on the impacts of COVID-19 and will provide a point of contact for government as it creates policies, programs and measures to support business and workers to address the significant economic impacts here in British Columbia.

“Just as BC’s salmon farmers are taking our responsibility as an essential service to help keep Canada’s food supply robust, along with B.C.’s other food sectors, we are also taking our long-standing commitment to give back to the communities we call home seriously,” said Hall.

(image courtesy of Mowi)