Sponsor content from Poseidon Ocean Systems

Can aeration solve the Norway algae crisis?

How can farms in northern Norway and other regions prevent algal blooms from decimating salmon stocks? Canada may hold the answer.

Sponsor content from Poseidon Ocean Systems
Written by
The content marketing team at IntraFish & NHST Global Publications
June 18, 2019

The algal bloom that’s ravaging salmon farms in Norway isn’t the first and won’t be the last. As the aquaculture sector looks to the future many are using this disaster—and others like it—as a learning opportunity to identify the most effective ways of mitigating the risks of a phenomena that shows no signs of abating.

How can farms in northern Norway and other regions prevent algal blooms from decimating salmon stocks? Our search for an answer to this question brought us to British Columbia where, just 12 months ago, Grieg Seafood was grappling with an algal bloom that ultimately led to the loss of over 50 percent of the company's total biomass in two of its locations there.

In a recent interview with IntraFish, Rocky Boschman, managing director of Grieg Seafood BC, said that the percentage would have been even higher if the company hadn’t taken preventative measures.

"Ten years ago, I'm certain we would have lost 100 percent of the fish," he told IntraFish. "Sometimes Mother Nature kicks you so hard you don't have an answer for it. But you can measure improvements over the years."

The two sites impacted by algal blooms in 2018 now utilize a combination of both skirt and aeration systems.


Photo: Poseidon

Effective life support systems, which include aeration equipment and oxygen diffusers, create a barrier to harmful plankton blooms and jellyfish infestations. This reduces and can even eliminate the concentration of potentially harmful organisms in a salmon cage.

Matt Clarke, president and CEO of Poseidon Ocean Systems, which supplies over 80% of all life support systems utilized by Canadian salmon farms today, believes Norwegian farmers can learn a great deal from their Canadian compatriots.

“The algae bloom in Norway is a tragedy for those farmers. But they will bounce back, as they always do,” he says. “The opportunity lies in their response to this adversity. Regions other than Western Canada are going to start experiencing this challenge on a more regular basis, and the good news is that there are solutions that are available and are proven to work—and work very well.”

It's unlikely that British Columbia will experience anything similar to what happened in northern Norway where a algal bloom known as chrysochromulina killed millions of fish due in part to the wide-spread use of active algae defense systems. Researchers, however, concede that the algal bloom season is just beginning.

In addition to a favorable summer forecast, BC has a more robust plankton monitoring program than other salmon farming regions, in part, because it’s been grappling with algal blooms since the 1980s.

As IntraFish reported, chrysochromulina is the third most common strain of harmful algae in BC. Today, researchers say heterosigma akashiwo, which was responsible for Grieg's losses last year, poses a far greater threat.

"We get heterosigma bloom on the coast every year. We've had maybe one or two years out of 20 where we've been doing harmful algal bloom monitoring that we haven't seen a heterosigma bloom," explained Nicky Haigh, a BC-based senior phytoplankton analyst and CEO of Microthalassia Consultants.

While BC's Harmful Algae Monitoring Program (HAMP) and programs like it play a pivotal role in prevention, aeration systems continue to serve as the first line of defense against harmful algae for salmon farms in Canada, Norway and other regions.


Poseidon's Gen IV Life Support System, which is already in use on farms in Canada.

There’s no shortage of aeration systems to choose from. Whether you’re planning to upgrade your current system or are installing one for the first time, Poseidon says all salmon farms should keep the following considerations in mind:

1. Engineered solution – All farms are different. Look for an engineered solution that will design the life support to effectively work for each farm.

2. Cage configuration – Circle or steel cages. Utilizing walkways? In-pen aeration along with under walkway aeration provides the best coverage.

3. Location – What are the average current, wind and waves like? What about the temperature conditions in the summer? How deep is the water?

4. Massive flow – Lots of bubbles does not always equal good protection. Properly designed and dispersed lower-pressure air and proper flow can effectively guard against algae and plankton. High flow that is isn’t dispersed properly will not effectively create a barrier from the algae.

5. Design with energy resources in mind – Running at higher flows and pressure will cause the usage of more fuel without necessarily producing better protection. A properly designed system can reduce the amount of fuel needed and provide the best protection possible.

“Algae blooms can have a devastating effect on operations ,” Clarke says. “By and large, though, Canadian farmers don’t fear algae blooms as they once did. Most Canadian operations expect to achieve greater than 90% survival rates during a bloom like the one currently affecting Norway.”

“The recent outbreak in northern Norway affected roughly 450 kilometres of coastline and led to losses estimated to be as high as 8 million salmon in one week alone. This crisis demonstrates why it’s imperative that farmers create a barrier to harmful plankton blooms with an effective aquaculture aeration system.”

Poseidon made waves this week when it announced the release of its latest-generation aeration system that’s equipped with features specifically tailored to minimize the effect of harmful plankton outbreaks and protect fish against hazardous algae blooms.


An advertiser commissioned this article, which was produced by the content marketing team at NHST Global Publications, the publisher of IntraFish Media.

The Gen IV Life Support System is designed to improve poor oxygen conditions and enhance harvest and treatment operations that normally coincide with low dissolved oxygen levels. Whether it’s the grow-out period, harvest or times of higher stress, supplementary oxygen generation and diffusion systems can ensure that the best possible conditions are achieved.

Effective aeration systems create a barrier to harmful plankton blooms and jellyfish infestations. This reduces and can even eliminate the concentration of potentially harmful organisms in a farm’s cage system.