Covid-safe Technology Focus: Other Canadian jurisdictions

Covid-safe Technology Focus: Other Canadian jurisdictions

This is from a recent research study into Covid-safe technologies on Ontario fish farms by Ron Hill of Velocity Aqua. Learn more by reading: Ontario Aquaculture Association partners with OMAFRA to explore Covid-safe technology options for Ontario fish farmers

Fish farmers and aquaculture workers across Canada have been declared essential workers and companies have remained operating through the pandemic. Companies have made changes to processes and staffing to prevent the spread of COVID19, but there have been few farming technology adoptions specifically to fight COVID19 outside of PPE and plexiglass. Aquaculture operations across Canada have done what most businesses have done to fight COVID19: mandatory masks and physical distancing, process changes to keep people separate and increased ventilation where possible. Dividing barriers, physical barriers, and traffic control are used make sure people are using controlled access points and disinfected. Disinfection stations and sprayers are the only new technologies identified from those surveyed. Farms across the country have focused on changing workflow and maintaining physical distancing. Isolation of shifts, isolation of specific sites and comprehensive disinfection schedules are core concepts.

Compartmentalizing workers and shifts to limit contact are widespread conventions across Canada. Crews on opposite shifts do not meet in person and communicate only through video conference. Crew boats and vans are now dedicated to one crew only, instead of picking up multiple crews on a combined shift change day. Shift changes have been spread out through the week to avoid contact and allow disinfection between transports. Many companies report increasing their fleet size to maintain proper physical distancing and accommodate the modification to crew changes. Contractors are used for only necessary work and are isolated from the farm workers. Meetings between the work crew staff are now held outside with everyone physically distanced.

COVID19 action committees were formed at several companies to come up with contingency plans to “what if scenarios” and preventative action plans to limit the spread. Safety meetings and tailgate meeting have a strong COVID19 component to keep COVID19 top of mind with the staff and distribute the newest information. All staff areas are cleaned and disinfected daily including offices, camp houses, lunchrooms, boot rooms, vehicles, and any other common areas. Many of these areas have installed plexiglass to further isolate workers.

Many farms have the necessary automation technologies in place to provide physical distancing without losing efficiency. Mowi Canada’s Dalrympyl hatchery has just adopted automated vaccination equipment, though the equipment was already planned for before the pandemic. This piece of equipment is a good example of automation that has been adopted and is helping to stop the spread. This piece of equipment drops the labour needed for vaccinating fish from 17 down to 5 persons and eliminates the congregation of workers around the vaccination table. Used in conjunction with a fish pump, automated process equipment like this vaccinator is providing added protection to staff as it allows physical distancing to be maintain through the operation.

Overall Canada’s aquaculture sector has taken a proactive approach to preventing COVID19 through staff isolation and process changes to limit the spread. Any innovative farming technologies in place allow farms to maintain physical distancing without affecting production.

Download a condensed fact sheet: Covid-Safe Technology Fact Sheet

Download the full report: Feasibility Evaluation of Innovative Fish Farming Technologies to Prevent the Spread of COVID19 and Increase Productivity at Ontario Aquaculture Farms