One of the world’s largest aquaponics facilities has attained Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification, the Global Aquaculture Alliance announced in late August. It’s the first aquaponics facility in the BAP program as well as the first land-based, recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) raising Atlantic salmon and steelhead trout in the BAP program.
Wisconsin-based Superior Fresh, which operates a 160,000-square-foot aquaponics facility (soon to expand to 300,000 square feet) on a 720-acre native restoration project in the rural community of Northfield, Wisc., just harvested its first fish on July 4 and will be able to produce around 160,000 pounds of Atlantic salmon and steelhead annually. The company also produces around 1.5 million pounds of organic leafy greens annually.
“We are proud to be a part of the BAP program. Our personal standards and morals related to how we farm are backed up by a strong stamp that truly helps consumers understand that we are doing everything possible to raise healthy, safe and sustainable food,” said Superior Fresh President Brandon Gottsacker.
The fish are fed a specially formulated diet free of hormones and antibiotics. The fish produce ammonia and solids, and the solids are broken down from ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates, making nutrients available for plant uptake. The nutrient-rich water is then pumped into the greenhouse for the leafy greens, which use the nutrients and, in turn, clean the water. The clean water is then pumped back into the aquaculture system.
The fish, which are harvested weekly, are currently being sold head-on and gutted in both foodservice and retail markets. Wisconsin-based Festival Foods is the first retailer to carry Superior Fresh Atlantic salmon and steelhead fillets.
Superior Fresh has been operating for just over a year, and the project is five years in the making. The company is owned by Todd and Karen Wanek, owners of U.S.-based furniture manufacturer Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.
BAP is the world’s most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program, with standards encompassing environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare and traceability. It’s also the only program to cover the entire aquaculture production chain — processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills.
Through the first half of 2018, there were 2,079 BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills in 34 countries and six continents. In terms of certified facilities, the BAP program has more than doubled in the past two-and-a-half years.
A division of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, Best Aquaculture Practices is an international certification program based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain — farms, hatcheries, processing plants and feed mills — that assure healthful foods produced through environmentally and socially responsible means. BAP certification is based on independent audits that evaluate compliance with the BAP standards developed by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.