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New Cod-Growing Enterprise in Newfoundland

Cod Post-harvest +2 more

NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA - Cooke Aquaculture has taken the first cod from its nursery to grow-out sites in Hermitage Bay.

For hundreds of years fish harvesters caught cod in Hermitage Bay. Many of them would be surprised to see cod being raised in the same bay they fished in all those years ago, reports The Coaster.

While the traditional fishery is still ongoing, the Newfoundland fishery is evolving, however, and today Cooke Aquaculture is raising cod at Northwest Cove in the bay.

Cooke Aquaculture Inc. started its cod nursery in Belleoram in May 2009 when two-gram cod were brought to the facility for further growth.

Last week, 42,700 of those cod, weighing anywhere from 30 grams to 120 grams, were loaded on board the 'Jean Jordannie' and were taken to two grow-out sites located at Northwest Cove in Hermitage Bay.

Rae Frost, is the manager of the Belleoram cod nursery, said that the young cod placed on board the transport boat on September 14 were ready to be placed in the cages for future growth.

"These young cod are very hardy," she said, "and are definitely ready to be placed in the grow-out sites. We will have more cod to take to the sites as this project continues."

Ms Frost said that two-gram cod coming in from New Brunswick in the near future would replace the approximate 43,000 cod taken from the nursery last week.

Frank Powell, alternate species manager with Cooke Aquaculture Inc., said that he is pleased with the operation at Belleoram and that the company hopes to be able to stock more cod in Hermitage Bay in 2010.

The cod placed in the grow-out sites in mid-September will not be ready for processing for about three years.

Mr Powell said: We'd like the cod to be between six and seven pounds, gutted, before we process them. At this point, it's taking us longer than we'd like to raise cod to a processing weight."

He noted that cod aquaculture is not as advanced as salmon aquaculture in Atlantic Canada.

"Raising cod is still in the developmental stages," Mr Powell told The Coaster. "The issue of improving growth rates has not been worked out as much with cod as it has been with salmon. Of course, we have been raising salmon much longer than we've been raising cod.

"We have to work on such things as feed formulas and other general husbandry practices before we can reduce the amount of time it takes to raise mature cod.

"We have been raising cod since 2004, and we've joined forces with some government agencies and other companies to improve on raising cod. However, we have not seen the fruits of that labour yet.

"It will take two or three generations of cod before we can pick out the superior ones. Once we pick out the faster growing ones, we can take the eggs from those and start to shorten the cycle it takes to get to a processing size of six to seven pounds."

With the price of traditional cod down from years ago, some people wonder why any company would want to raise cod at all.

Mr Powell said: "We're sort of targeting a different market than you would with traditional fisheries.

"In a traditional fishery, you may have to bring your product to market because you have to. With farmed fish, you have a swimming inventory, and you don't harvest the fish out until you have an order for it.

"So, with our product, you will have a consistent year-round supply of cod at a consistent size and with a good, consistent quality. Once you've established your markets, customers are willing to pay extra money for fish they consider fresher with a good quality."