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Québec’s first urban RAS growing Arctic char

March 2, 2022  By Nestor Arellano


Québec’s first urban recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility is now beginning to see its first batch of 60,000 Arctic char eggs ordered from the Yukon hatch. If all goes according to plan, David Dupaul-Chicoine and Nicolas Paquin, the two founders of Opercule, will soon realize their dream of serving the Québec market with fish grown right from the centre of Montréal, Que.

Opercule launched back in 2021. But it was more than two years earlier that Dupaul-Chicoine and Paquin hatched the idea of raising Arctic char from an urban RAS facility and delivering fish to Montréal restaurants via electric bikes, according to a post on the District Central’s website.

Both men were students at the École des pêches et de l’aquaculture du Québec. After completing their training, Dupaul-Chicoine and Paquin developed their aquaculture project in 2018 and spent the following years obtaining the necessary permits for the facility they planned to build in the centre of the city.

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Opercule is financially supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Québec. The company now occupies a space at the District Central headquarters in downtown Montréal, the largest urban agriculture cooperative in Québec.

The duo chose District Central as their base of operations because the urban agriculture cooperative shared their values of sustainable production. “It brings together producers and processors. It allows us toe create great synergies and a circular economy, because some of our waste will become raw materials for other businesses,” said Paquin. For instance, sludge waste from the RAS facility can be turned into fertilizer for plants being grown in the building.

Opercule is using a RAS that will allow the company to recycle 99.5 per cent of the water it uses. The system will only use 14 litres of water per minute at least 100 times less water that what traditional fish farms would use.

Opercule expects to grow 30,000 kilograms of Arctic char per year with plans to expand operations in the future.


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