Reduce, Recycle, Reuse is a saying that all eco-passionate consumers are familiar with, but very few entrepreneurs implement this strategy into their business model and even fewer take it as literally as the team at West Coast Fishculture. West Coast Fishculture has not only implemented this strategy, but they have also managed to become a zero waste company. What started out as fish farming on the West Coast of Vancouver Island has evolved into the recycling of the fish remains to make them into a 100% organic fish fertilizer/soil amendment called Simply Fish.
Once the fish have been gutted at the processing plant, which is located just up the hill from the Lois Lake farm site, the remains of the fish (guts, heads and frames) are sent back to the farm site where a “fish smoothie” is created. The “smoothie” undergoes natural enzymatic protein breakdown where the oil is separated from the hydrolyzed nutrient mass. The completed soil amendment is then pH stabilized to prevent bacterial or microbial growth, then is tested and bottled for consumer uses.
The Lois Lake Fish Farm was started by Ward Griffioen, a Netherlands native who came to Canada in 1958 at the young age of 18. Griffioen had worked on his family fish grow-out and live food fish exportation farm, but upon his arrival in Calgary, AB he worked a few years in construction while he and his wife Maryke started a family. Later he landed a job at the Calgary Aquarium where he was able to continue his career in fish culture. In 1958 the Griffioen family relocated to Nanaimo, BC where Ward became a technician at the Pacific Biological Station and began growing salmon. After an inspiring government exploratory trip in Norway, Griffioen decided to open his own fish farming operation and the rest is history.
Current Team And Vision
While Griffioen is now retired from West Coast Fishculture, he has an incredible team of people who carry on his legacy by developing eco-friendly products (like Simply Fish, which has organic certification through PRO Cert and the USDA) and implementing innovating techniques to minimize waste and increase sustainability. “Our farm is currently working on installing 5 fully enclosed lake containment systems and we will be capable of retrieving a very high percentage of all waste matter produced by the fish, enabling us to make an even richer fertilizer and [to] pursue a goal of a fully – zero (0) waste, sustainable organic product” says Luke Desilets , West Coast Fishcultuer’s Quality Control Supervisor.
West Coast Fishculture’s eco-friendly and sustainable practices don’t stop there. They are proud to provide non GMO, and antibiotic free natural foods, in addition to being an “Ocean Wise” organization, which gives them certification as a sustainable aquaculture facility that conforms to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct. The highly experienced and passionate team at West Coast Fishculture is so accountable for their operations, in fact, they pride themselves on being able to “trace each batch of organic fertilizer produced back to the pen harvested to the feed it received throughout its life all the way back to the lot number of eggs grown” says Desilets. And above and beyond taking pride in the quality of both fish and fertilizer that they produce, they are also extremely environmentally conscious in ensuring the highest level of cleanliness within their facilities. By continuously striving to be industry leaders in sustainability they are able to reduce their carbon footprint as well as the pressure on wild salmon.
It is companies like West Coast Fishculture that demonstrate day in and day out the importance of respecting our environment and preserving it for our future. It is our duty to take pride in the environment of which we live and care properly for those who inhabit this earth. With organizations like this leading the way, there’s no doubt that together we can achieve a cleaner, more sustainable tomorrow.
Feature Image: The beautiful location of West Coast Fishculture in Powell River, BC.