Build it and they will feed
Mowi Canada West has built a feed control centre on North Vancouver Island that boasts the latest fish feeding technology, while also providing inclusive career opportunities to a diverse group of prospective employees who may not be able to travel by sea or work in a camp setting.
The Seagate Feed Control Centre, located in Port Hardy, allows farmers to feed and watch their salmon at four farm sites located about an hour’s boat ride from the town. The Control Centre hosts numerous large monitors that are linked wirelessly to a feed delivery system at each farm as well as surface and underwater cameras.
“This substantial investment is very important to us, as it ensures we can monitor and care for our salmon daily, no matter the weather, and also keeps our staff safe when they are unable to reach the farm because of stormy seas,” says Brice McCannel, Mowi’s Remote Feeding Manager.
Its location on the main dock in downtown Port Hardy will eventually provide an opportunity to welcome members of the public that wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to meet with salmon farmers and learn about what they do to care for their fish and the environment.
“I am extremely pleased to see the continued technological investments that Mowi is putting into Port Hardy’s areas of operation,” says Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas. “This also gives us a unique visitor and educational opportunity which I believe is really important so people can better understand what really happens with regards to employees and operations at the salmon farms. I am excited about a tour in the near future.”
The Centre is approximately 600 square feet, with the remainder of the building containing a private office space, two washrooms, a lunchroom, and a small lounge area for staff to take breaks. There are currently six members of staff working at the Feed Centre on varied shifts to provide as much feeding coverage as possible.
Staff are required to have a detailed daily communication plan with the on-site farm team which includes a private radio network that allows for instant communication. The radio network is monitored through computer software with built-in safety features, adding another level of safety for farm staff.
“The Centre also creates an opportunity for us to provide employment to a much larger demographic,” adds McCannel. “With staff no longer required to work away from home for ‘camp shifts’ or to be mariners or able to withstand the rugged outdoor elements. We’ve also built the Centre with accessibility in mind.”
Dependant on local Covid guidelines, it is hoped the Feed Centre will open to visitors this fall.
Top image: Tasia Lerikos and Mike Stead monitor feed activity
Middle image: Feed Control Centre, Port Hardy
Bottom image: Feed Technician Wyler Hunt