DUNDEE firm Ace Aquatec is exhibiting at the Boston seafood show for the first time to tap into potential new market opportunities in the US and Canada.
Mike Forbes, head of sales and marketing, who is heading to the expo this weekend, said there had been growing interest in North America for its award winning electric stunner in particular.
‘We’ve seen that expanding so much over the last couple of years, since we won the Aqua Nor award [in 2017].
‘We’ve had installations in Chile, Europe, New Zealand and obviously in the UK as well, and one in Alaska that’s been going really well in the last year and a half.’
The Alaskan installation is with a group called SSRAA – Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association. It is one of several restocking programmes in the state, which has a salmon fishing rather than a farming industry.
The Alaskans use the electric stunner in their hatcheries, from where they release millions of salmon into the wild every year.
‘They are looking to increase the quality and yield of their egg production and so they use the stunner when they’re removing eggs from the fish,’ said Forbes.
Over a year and a half ago the director of Ace’s Canadian business, Jenny Bouwsema, went to Alaska to find out about the unique needs in the hatchery space.
The SSRAA installed a stunner and then wanted to go through a whole production cycle to gauge its merits.
‘What they found was that it increased their production yields and met all their targets, so they have been going out speaking to other Alaskan farms,’ said Forbes.
SSRAA’s production manager, Bill Gass, shared their electric stunning results at the 2019 Alaska Fish Culture Conference and Ace Aquatec is working with SSRAA to plan the next electric stunner installation.
‘We thought now we have that advocate in the area, it was a good time to be here,’ said Forbes, who will be running the stand at the Boston show alongside his marketing colleague Michelle Wildeboer.
Another possible new market is in the fast developing US recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) sector.
‘We’re also looking at the potential of the American RAS land based aquaculture, that’s another area of opportunity for us so I’m quite keen to see what people are there.’
The stunner would be just as effective in RAS plants as in conventional farms – ‘you can put them in wherever the fish are’ said Forbes.
Apart from the electric stunner, which will be the main focus of the stand, the Ace team is also taking out an electric fish predator deterrent, which was very good at attracting attention during the Aqua Sur exhibition in Chile last year.
Forbes expects it to be even more popular in the North American markets.
‘Really, we designed it for people who have more restrictions on sites with acoustic devices, which is primarily the US, Canada and then Australia and New Zealand.’
Ace Aquatec has a couple of the electric fish on sites in Scotland and is currently ramping up production for the commercial systems, with units destined for New Zealand and Australia.
‘We’ve already got homes for the next ones we produce, in Scotland, where we see it as more of a complement.
‘Sites in Scotland that have used it so far have been the ones that customers find the most challenging [with predators].
‘Often, it’s been a temporary fix when there’s a particular issue on a couple of cages, or one bad site, and they just want another tool in their arsenal to avoid having to call in a marksman.
‘When we put it on a particular cage we got the morts down to zero. They saw it as a big benefit using it.’
Seafood Expo North America (SENA) will be held over three days from March 17-19.