Teamwork, communication and collaboration leads to successful transfer of over 5 million smolts
After 10 weeks of planning and thirteen weeks of shipping involving 17 separate voyages by wellboat, 5,772,109 smolts have been successfully transferred to our sea sites across Canada East.
To stock our sea farms in New Brunswick, Newfoundland Bays East and Newfoundland Bays West, the freshwater and saltwater teams have to work extremely closely as everything is geared around the smoltification process and making sure that the transfer happens at the optimum time in the salmon’s lifecycle.
Sheldon McKinley, Freshwater Supply Chain and Logistics Manager, explains the process and why he believes it ran like clockwork this year.
“For smolt transfer, everything works back from what I call the ‘sweet spot’ of the smoltification process. Biology is king in this process, so it is really important to stick to the schedule. Planning is year-round really, beginning with vaccinations and grading in preparation for shipment. Ultimately identifying the perfect entry date for each Hatchery just prior to smolt season. From there it takes preparation to maintain the logistics schedule so we can take advantage and remain in that ‘sweet spot’. It is all about communication so approximately 10 weeks in advance of the first ponding we begin weekly smolt calls to ensure everything is on track – to ensure the sea sites are ready, vessels are ready, that we have the relevant permits in place, etc. Then it takes around 13 weeks of shipping from the very first boatload to the last, until the job is done.”
In total, smolt transfers can involve a team of over 20 people because it brings together freshwater, seawater, environmental, fish health and logistics teams.
After the 2021 smolt transfer, Sheldon believes they are getting better with each year: “This is our third year of ponding in Canada East and a significant increase in the volume of smolts transferred versus 2020 (over 1 million). Everybody was calm and there was nothing we couldn’t work through together. Good equipment reducing stress during handling and communication is key. There is lots of correspondence using Outlook, Teams and mobile phones, with nobody missed out. Ultimately, every member of this project team is an expert in their field and good at what they do and that makes all the difference.”