Friday, 25 November 2016

What is IRAFS

Land-based aquaculture is anticipated to grow ninefold over the next 15 years, and within this market segment, Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), a form of closed loop aquaculture, offers a significant industry opportunity to increase production sustainability.

RAS technology unlocks immense opportunities for businesses and consumers alike to access a fresh, healthful protein source. As opposed to open aquaculture methods that require the ocean or direct freshwater sources, RAS is a self contained tank system that enables efficient water use, environment control and extreme flexibility in terms of location. RAS can function fully in urban areas and even in desert environments.

The location flexibility RAS provides can enable more cost-effective and convenient distribution than in-water located aquaculture affords. Farmers can place an RAS next to major transport hubs or, conversely, in areas with limited infrastructure, thus reducing distribution expenses and opening up new markets.

The natural progression of RAS farm technology has led us to the development of systems that not only farm fish in a more sustainable manner but also make beneficial use of byproducts that would otherwise be considered as waste in many other types of fish farms.

IRAFS is short for Integrated Recycling Aqua Farm Systems. The IRAFS Closed Loop Production System produces safe high quality food products that meet consumer demand while minimising the resource inputs and maximising conservation. Based on science and technology, this farming method has emerged as the best green alternative to provide consumers with value, taste and convenience in consumption of eco-friendly seafood and vegetable products that are grown together in a farm environment that more closely mimics nature.

Closed system aquaculture operations like the IRAFS design are providing better ways to farm fish. This involves barrier technologies that ensure no contact between wild and farmed fish, thus eliminating the most negative impacts of fish farming and significantly reducing others. Recent large scale developments in closed containment have also led to better overall economics and pave the way for expansion and change in our food supply. An IRAFS farm also converts fish farm waste products (fish manure) into fresh wholesome plant crops available year round thus further increasing value and returns while mitigating adverse environmental impacts. Perhaps more important is that an IRAFS farm does not use chemicals, antibiotics or pesticides in the growing process. The IRAFS fish rearing plan employs bio-security measures to ensure fish health and eliminate disease.

Land based fish farms based on IRAFS type designs are also poised to expand to a larger role in world wide aquaculture production due to the vast improvements in sustainability they provide over traditional open water type fish farming. These systems will become increasing more important in serving the large market for high value Canadian and U.S. domestic edible seafood supplies.


The need for change in seafood supply lead us to Aquaculture and now the need for changes and improvements in the way we farm fish has lead us to developing methods to conduct aqua farming in a more sustainable manner. Integrated food production using the proven principals of Aquaculture - Aquaponics combined with green energy technologies and utilisation of by-products works toward closing the loop in sustainable food farming.

In today's farms, we need to incorporate Biomimicry methods and implement sustainable solutions by emulating nature's time-tested patterns and strategies. The overall goal is to create products, processes, and policies that are well adapted to maintaining constant sustainable food production to the benefit of life on earth into the future.

As resources become increasingly scarce and more expensive we need to design farms with conservation and re-use technologies and we need to operate in a more efficient manner. The often ignored bi-products of one farm process need to be viewed as being valuable resources that can be reused or re-purposed within a broader more diversified operation. If we were to look at the full possibilities and take the organic sustainable approach a step or two further to include integrated crop production via aquaculture- aquaphonics, and model operations with Biomimicry methods, we could certainly improve upon production output and greatly increase productivity per acre seen in even the best run conventional type farms.

The proof of this is being seen in numerous similar type operations around the world. What is more, these types of closed loop systems have been shown to reduce the resource input needs tremendously while making maximum use of bi-products to help produce a greater variety of safe food in a very energy efficient manner.

IRAFS Group Main Website

State of Affairs - World Fish and Seafood Supply

Northern Arctic Char

Global fish stocks are being depleted at levels never thought possible while all the ocean’s marine life forms are declining from human over fishing, pollution, habitat destruction and global warming. Several reports suggest that as little as only ten percent of all large fish, both open ocean species including tuna, swordfish, marlin and large ground fish such as cod, halibut, skates and flounder are left in the sea.

Our freshwater inland fish stocks are in no better shape in many regions according to other studies. Just as in the ocean based fisheries, some of our commercial freshwater lake fisheries also suffer from degradation due in part to accidental catch of other fish species that are not utilised, unused and die as nothing more than waste products.

In other words, people are taking far more fish out of the wild than can be replaced by the stock populations that are remaining. Fish are the last wild animals that we hunt and gather in large numbers. In all likelihood we may be the last generation to pursue large scale exploitation of wild fish stocks.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, which keeps global catch statistics, recently published data which grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue at the current pace, all the world's fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.

The ever expanding world population is and was the major contributing factor to over exploitation of wild seafood stocks, yet amidst this we are also witnessing a record demand for seafood. Last year, global fish consumption hit a record high of 17 kg (37 pounds) per person per year, even though global fish stocks have continued to decline. On average, people eat four times as much fish now as they did in 1950.

These shortages of supply coupled with the large increases in demand fostered the expansion of commercial fish farming as there remained little choice or alternatives. Mankind realised long ago that in order to feed ourselves we must farm plants and animals, seafood production should be no different. Over the last 50 years the world has seen an intensification of Aquaculture in order to fill the gap and appease the demand for seafood.

Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans and plants, is the world’s fastest growing agriculture sector and produces more than 50% of the global seafood supply. The global aquaculture industry, currently valued at over $144 billion, has consistently grown in terms of volume, increasing at an average of 8% annually in the last 20 years. In 2014, aquaculture overtook wild-caught fish as the leading source of seafood, and by the year 2020, the industry’s value is expected to reach over $200 billion—a 38% increase from today’s figure.

A confluence of demand factors such as global population growth and increased fish consumption has exponentially increased pressure on wild fish stocks, driving the need for seafood produced using sustainable aquaculture techniques. Compounding these factors is the the realisation that not only do we need to farm more fish but we also need to do so in a more sustainable manner that more closely emulates nature's time-tested patterns and strategies.

The rapid growth in commercial Aquaculture took place mainly in near coastal ocean sittings using simple net pen technologies and methods thought to be the best at the time, we know now that those methods have considerable shortcomings and there are numerous instances were their use created adverse environmental impacts and brought to the forefront important questions about their sustainability and continual use.

Fortunately a more sustainable growing solution is emerging within the thriving aquaculture industry. This is a production method called Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS). RAS, a land-based fully contained fish farming method, has the flexibility to be fully operational in any environment. It is self-contained and does not require direct ocean access, enabling abundant and fresh protein sources in a myriad of geographies where traditional aquaculture would be impossible. Businesses and policymakers are seeing value in RAS as a way to improve food access and gain a sustainable seafood supply.

At the IRAFS group we are progressing the RAS farming process several steps further by augmenting with practices and technologies that are inspired by the principals of "Biomimicry". The IRAFS Closed Loop Production System produces safe high quality consumable food products while minimising the resource inputs and maximising conservation. Based on science and technology, this farming method is emerging as the best green alternative to provide consumers with value, taste and convenience in consumption of eco-friendly seafood and plant products. This is a safe, versatile and secure continuous production system.