Seafood Current Archive – Issue 10

Canadian cove logoCanadian Cove Organic Mussels
The Beginnings:
Brothers Brian & Bob Fortune are true pioneers in the mussel aquaculture business. In 1989 they founded Atlantic Aqua Farms and its signature brand Canadian Cove. With quality the number one focus they grew to build a 100,000 square foot processing facility in 1997. By 2006, Atlantic Aqua Farms had acquired significant leases and production operations both on PEI and Nova Scotia. Today Atlantic Aqua Farms produces nearly 40,000,000 pounds of cultured mussels annually. With the belief from day one that all mussels are not created equal they moved ahead of the competition with quality mussels that stand apart and at the top of the industry. From farming techniques to cleaning, grading, packaging and quality control the Canadian Cove product stands above the competition.

The Process:
Canadian Cove employs a growing system called long lines whereby the mussels are suspended vertically in the water column and are attached to a long line grid. The growing cycle starts by collecting seed on seed collector lines also suspended in the water column. Each spring mussels spawn, releasing billions of microscopic larvae into the water. These larvae float around in the water column for a week or so until they attach themselves to collector lines with a tiny thread called a byssal thread. At this point they are no bigger than a grain of sand. The mussels remain on the collector lines until they grow to 1/2 inch. This seed is then harvested and graded into uniform sizes and placed in socks about 10 feet long. These socks, filled with uniform seed, are taken back to the water and suspended from our long lines. This seed will grow to a mature size of approximately 2 1/2 inches in length over a 12 to 18 month period. When the mussels reach optimal size and meat yield, they are harvested by specially designed mussel boats. The mussel lines are placed in insulated tanks and brought to our processing facility in Orwell Cove. Once in our plant the mussels are stripped from the socking material and placed in our state of the art holding system.

The Difference:
Special care is the key to every step of the way for Canadian Cove mussels. While the mussels are in the water they are periodically lifted for inspection and maintenance. If growth is too concentrated they cull out excess to provide needed space for mussels to grow to a larger, healthier size. From harvest time through the mussels stay in the holding tanks in Atlantic Aqua Farms state of the art facility care is taken to keep mussels in a low stress state. Atlantic Aqua Farms research shows mussel life is longer after harvest when mussels have less stress. The mussel grading procedure is taken to the highest level as only mussels of the proper size and quality are put into the Canadian Cove bag. No tiny filler mussels or uncleaned mussels or foreign objects (pebbles, rocks etc.) that only add weight are added. The care in handling and this tight grading system added to holding tanks that purge impurities from mussels insure only the best mussels leave the processing facility heading to market. Complete traceability insures customer safety as every bag is tagged with a lot number and harvest location that is traceable throughout the entire process and into the marketplace.

Sustainability:
Farmed mussels are the poster child for seafood aquaculture sustainability. Mussels filter plankton for food and do not need any supplement feeding. Mussels are not over crowded in pens and do not induce any adverse environmental impact. Aquaculture mussels are a “Green” list product on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list as well as certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The Canadian government has created an Organic Standard for seafood products and Canadian Cove mussels have a number of leases that qualify for the standard. All Canadian Cove mussels produced in 2 pound retail bags have the Organic sash banner attached.

Latest News:
JP Shellfish LogoAtlantic Aqua Farms announced in December 2015 a business combination of JP’s Shellfish, Confederation Cove and Stewart Mussel Farms with Atlantic Aqua Farms. This combination forms a completely vertical integrated shellfish enterprise. In the official press release Terry Ennis, President & CEO of Atlantic Aqua Farms Partnership stated, “The combination of these companies, each one with a reputation for quality and service, is a win for our staff, our loyal customers and the industry. Atlantic Aqua Farms is the #1 grower-processor and supplier of premium, rope-cultivated PEI blue mussels to North America. Our single focus every day is to consistently produce the best quality mussels in the world for our customers and the addition of J.P.’s Shellfish, Confederation Cove Mussels and Stewart Mussel Farms to our family will allow us to provide more of the high quality shellfish we’ve always been known for, in addition to a new suite of complimentary products including live lobsters, oysters and clams, to our customers.”

Carolina Classic Catfish
Carolina Classics logoFounded in 1985, Carolina Classic Catfish set out to be the country’s premium farmed catfish producer. Rob Mayo and his staff in North Carolina have worked hard to set themselves apart from all others in the catfish industry. In 1993 Carolina Classics became the first American seafood processor to develop a USDC managed HACCP (Hazzard Analysis Critical Control Point) plan. Today all seafood companies must have a HACCP plan in place to operate legally. From the beginning they set the bar high and had quality as their mindset. As a vertically integrated company, Carolina Classics Catfish maintains strict control of the entire production system. From pond to plate they mill their own feed, operate their own hatchery, then raise, process and deliver premium quality catfish. Carolina Classic sets themselves in a league of their own as the only Catfish producer not adding water or any chemicals to their products. The industry standard in catfish is 10% water added. As most know you cannot just add water weight to a product without adding a chemical to bind that water into the fish. This just adds weight that has no value to the fish or customer. Carolina Classic has always looked at that practice as a practice not fitting into their model. In addition to their original Catfish Carolina Classics raises a catfish that qualifies to carry the All Natural label. There’s very little difference in the two products but the All Natural has a different feed maintaining a strict no land animal by-products in the ingredient list. Both products are produced without using chemicals antibiotics or water added.
Market Update

Salmon
Worldwide there is a firming in the salmon market. Higher Lenten demand combined with less fish in the water is pushing salmon pricing upward. This is true of Salmon from Europe as well as Chilean and Canadian raised fish. These increases should not be drastic and might ease off after Lenten demand lessens. Usual pattern would be an easing of farm salmon prices as wild salmon season approaches in May.

North Atlantic Groundfish
With a milder winter than normal the North Atlantic fishing fleet from Iceland to Norway to Canada and the USA has experienced good landings keeping supply good and prices reasonable. We expect good supply of Cod from all origins and Pollock and Flatfish (Flounders/Sole) as well to keep up through Lent.

Lake Fish
There has been no fishing on Lake Erie but as the weather improves boats will venture on the water to find fish. We expect to see small landings possibly starting this week but improving over the next couple of weeks. We should start seeing Walleye, White Bass and White Perch to start. We have seen and expect to continue to see Yellow Perch landings from inland lakes in North Carolina and Lake Champlain in upstate New York.

Grouper
Currently we are in the middle of the Gulf Black Grouper closure. We continue to receive landings of Red Grouper and other varieties of groupers not affected by the closure. We expected supply to be much shorter than we have realized to date. At this point baring any extreme weather in the Gulf we expect this to continue through this month.

Tuna/ Sword
Both the Yellowfin Tuna and Swordfish fishery are in short supply and this is normal for this time of year. Migrating fish and poorer weather conditions keep most Tuna Sword boats from large hauls. There’s tuna and sword to sell but prices should remain higher through this period. There will be Bluefin Tuna available in the Gulf as fish that have migrated from the North Atlantic in the fall to the Gulf waters are being targeted by the Gulf fleet.