Saskatchewan Trout Farm Looks to Expand

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
19 March 2007, at 12:00am

CANADA - Chances are if you happen to be sitting down to a meal of fresh steelhead trout in Brooklyn, New York, the fish was hatched, raised and harvested here in Saskatchewan.

Steelhead trout, a variety of rainbow trout, are the exclusive product of Wild West Steelhead, an aquaculture farm on Lake Diefenbaker in the Lucky Lake area.

“We are shipping about 80 per cent of our fish straight to the U.S.,” Wild West Steelhead General Manager Dean Foss said.

“We have a very large customer in Brooklyn who is a distributor to the Jewish community. Typically, for the New York market, we are shipping by truck on Thursday evening, and it arrives there Sunday.”

The aquaculture farm has been in operation for about 14 years, and the name Wild West Steelhead came into being when an Edmonton company purchased the former Saskatchewan Wheat Pool operation in 2004.

The fish are raised in growing pens in the waters of Lake Diefenbaker.

“We take the fish from fertilized eggs hatched out in our hatchery, and after three months, they are moved to the growing cages in the lake,” said Foss. “They spend 18 to 24 months out there and are ready for harvest at about the two kilogram size. We process them on site and they are shipped out fresh, packed in ice.”

Wild West Steelhead employs 25 people from the local area full-time, with up to five additional staff added during their busiest periods. They produce approximately 1,200 tonnes of live-weight fish per year, representing some 600,000 fish.

“We have made application to expand our operation, because markets are growing faster than we can increase production,” said Foss. “That will add up to three new sites, because the original location has reached capacity.”

Foss says the Canadian market demand for their product is primarily Saskatchewan, with some shipping to Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.