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Newfoundland to build Canada’s first cleaner fish hatchery

October 25, 2019  By Eric Ignatz

Along with establishing Canada's first cleaner fish hatchery, Marbase plans to invest in research on lumpfish nutrition, genetics and immune capabilities.

The company that plans to build Canada’s first lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) hatchery in Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador, is expecting to commence construction by middle of next year, with lumpfish ready for first shipment by 2021.

Marbase unveiled its plans during the Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA) Cold Harvest conference in September.

Marbase, who also revealed that its sales agreement to purchase the Marystown shipyard for $1 million was finalized recently, intends to construct its new facility on the same footprint. The shipyard will be converted to an aquaculture service hub, providing the local industry a cluster of companies that can assist in the growth of the sector.

Plans have been in the works for at least a couple of years, and while some permitting still needs to be obtained, Marbase hopes to start construction by mid-2020.


“We will service the industry here [Newfoundland] and maybe further into the Maritimes. And as the biomass grows, the demand for cleaner fish will also grow,” said the owner of Marbase Paul Antle. “Our main product will be 25-gram to 60-gram farmed cleaner fish, and we are looking at some other services to assist with keeping those fish in farms.”

At full operation, the facility will produce around three to five million lumpfish a year, he added.

Antle commented that Marbase is currently working closely with the staff at the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) through Memorial University. Members of the Dr. Joe Brown Aquatic Research Building at the OSC are already supplying the industry throughout the Maritimes with lumpfish but are unable to meet the growing demand.

Antle hopes this current relationship will build, stating, “Local research initiatives can be taken place locally with the brainpower that we have in the Ocean Sciences Centre. Together with industry we can work on a lot of different aspects of research locally, and obviously the education and training opportunities are enormous.”

Much remains unknown regarding lumpfish nutrition, genetics, and immune capabilities.  Marbase intends to invest in these research areas to help develop tailored diets, implement broodstock programs and design vaccines as their facility becomes operational.

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