Canadian land-based salmon producer Sustainable Blue enters receivership

Minority owners force receivership by Deloitte to enable the zero-discharge RAS facility to continue until next harvest, with 480,000 salmon still on-site.
Aerial view of Sustainable Blue recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Aerial view of Sustainable Blue recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Source: Sustainable Blue video.

Sustainable Blue, the zero-discharge RAS salmon producer located in Burlington, Nova Scotia, has been put into receivership, according to local news reports.

The fate of Sustainable Blue's nearly half-a-million Atlantic salmon has been hanging in the balance since last November's disastrous equipment failure, which killed almost 100,000 market-ready fish worth CAD $5 million.

At the time, Sustainable Blue, which describes itself as "the world's most responsible Atlantic salmon fishery", said it had suffered a "structural collapse" of a carbon dioxide filter for holding tanks in one of its production buildings.

This left the producer unable to supply customers and unleashed major cash flow difficulties.

Shareholder loans run out, receivership to restructure company

Since then, the company has been kept going by shareholder loans from minority shareholder TCAS Holdings, which owns a 32% stake in Sustainable Blue parent company, Sustainable Fishing Farming Canada (SFFC).

According to CBC News, TCAS has provided emergency funding of CAD $1.5 million, in addition to borrowing a further CAD $21 million from the Bank of Nova Scotia in order to prevent foreclosure.

Represented by Thane Stevens and Jim Lawley, TCAS decided enough is enough, and in recent days secured court approval for receivership by Deloitte, with significant restructuring on the cards. The minority shareholders say the company needs a further CAD $8.6 million to "stabilize".

"As shareholder loans to SFFC are no longer a viable option, should the receivership be granted, the proposed sale and investment solicitation process offers the best chance for SFFC's business to continue long-term," Stevens stated in an affadavit.

Sustainable Blue's North American expansion ambitions on hold

Sustainable Blue CEO Kirk Havercroft said last November that despite the "setback", the project would continue, and stated "we believe that land-based salmon aquaculture will be important not just to Nova Scotia, but to the whole of North America."

Last year, Sustainable Blue demonstrated ambitions to expand into the USA, reaching an agreement with Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz to explore land-based salmon farming in Washington as an alternative to net-pen aquaculture, with a "letter of intent" signed in April 2023.

At that time, the intention was for Sustainable Blue to identify potential sites for land-based aquaculture in Washington State-owned lands, specifically in "locations that are not reliant on marine or watershed environments".

However, it is as yet unknown how the receivership will impact these plans. At present, no further information about the Washington State venture has been publically released.

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