Day Trip to Cooke Aquaculture Saddle Island Farm

Natalie Knickle, AANS Outreach Specialist (Coop student- MSVU)

Isabelle Tremblay, AANS R&D Coordinator

Scott Leslie, Area Manager, Southern NS (Kelly Cove Salmon)

On April 11, 2017 Isabelle, AANS Research & Development coordinator and myself, AANS  Outreach Assistant traveled to Hubbards, Nova Scotia to a Cooke Aquaculture farm.  The farm we were visiting was located approximately 8 minutes off the shore to a small area called Saddle Island.

During the time we visited, there were site workers feeding the salmon with a large dispenser attached to the “timothy” vessel (pictured below) which is controlled by two workers.  Our curiosity was increasing with each question asked and answered and with that we wanted to get a closer look.  Scott informed us that the Saddle Island farm was one of the first Atlantic Salmon farms to be established in Nova Scotia and has been successfully operating for almost 20 years.

New innovations on the horizon for Cooke Aquaculture:

In their brand new Bridgewater office, two Cooke Aquaculture employees find themselves behind six big screens remotely feeding their fish in Digby, the entire system is controlled and monitored with high resolution webcams above and below the surface as well as a database which indicates temperature, oxygen level, tides, etc. The system is controlled via the office computers and connected to a large barge via an on-shore WiFi system. The barges were customized for and with the Cooke’s specific needs to meet the requirements for Canada. The barges have a feed capacity of 300T feed and are built with four feeding lines with 12-hole selector valves. As far as we know, Cooke is the first and only Aquaculture farm in Eastern Canada, currently using this technology. This type of system can save farm site workers hours of time which can be now focused on other priorities, in addition to safety, when the weather is too dangerous for farm workers to physically be on the farm feeding.


Overall, our day trip to Cooke Aquaculture’s Saddle Island farm was a success. I am thankful Isabelle made sure I had at least one farm visit before the end of my work term. For me, it was important to have the opportunity to visit a working farm and see exactly how everything is managed. A big thank-you to Scott Leslie, he was a wonderful tour guide and answered all of our questions with full detail. Looking back over my past four months with AANS I can easily say that this day is one of the most memorable.

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