Campbell River engineering outfit, Poseidon Ocean Systems, just hired a new financial controller and engineering and ecosystems expertise, with growth on the horizon
Matt Clarke grew up in pleasant Port Hardy, British Columbia, in an area Marine Harvest has come to see as vital to its Western Canadian operations.
In fact, Clarke — who designs, builds and sells complete fish-farms for salmon-growing heavyweights — was Marine Harvest’s engineer in these parts. Now, Poseidon Ocean Systems, the company he founded with his wife, Heather Clarke, in December 2015, has a dozen of its own staff focused on fish survival in exposed marine net-pens.
He wouldn’t disclose numbers, but the two-year-old company that makes aeration systems, moorings, nets — the whole kobang — has had “300-percent growth two years in a row,” he told SalmonBusiness. That’s accounted for in the award of a multimillion-dollar contract from Marine Harvest in April 2017 for 87, 120-meter polyethylene fish pens dubbed HD 500 Extreme. The pens had built-in extra buoyancy, setting them apart from many other area pens.
New and profitable
Asked why he was joining national aquaculture organizations, he said, “We’re a new company. Our growth has been significant — mostly in the finfish sector — and we have been expanding rapidly.”
So, is Poseidon an established player; past R&D and just looking for business or solid and looking to export, he said, “All of the above.”
“We are engaged in R&D, active in new product development, we have major ‘conventional’ supply contracts with the big players in Canada, and we are starting to look for new business outside of Canada, in addition to our growth plans domestically,” he explained.
There have been a number of invitations from outside of Canada. “We’ve been “invited” outside Canada for the most part, but not towards Scotland or Norway yet, mostly discussing projects in Asia and Australia. Receptiveness is good. Our reference clients (MH Canada, Cermaq, Grieg) go a long way to help that though,” he added.
With world grow-out technology divided, roughly, between net-pens suitable for the extremes and systems best used for smolts or quiet inland waterways, he said, Poseidon systems were “both”, although the company has engineered and supplied infrastructure to “the most extreme sites in Canada”.
For now, “Moorings and cages” has been the company top seller, “But our plankton mitigation and oxygenation are poised to grow dramatically,” Clarke says. Asked what was especially Canadian about the company farm designs, construction methods and engineering, he said, “Innovation and customer service”.
We asked if he was aware of the Federal Government’s new expansion plans and incentives for fish-farmers — medium and small — to invest in new, cleaner technology. He revealed that he was well-informed of Canadian policy changes as his more corporate peers in Norway.
“Yes. 2018 is looking very promising,” Clarke admitted.
So, when were you a start-up and when did you reach breakeven?
“We’re still a start-up and we’re profitable now,” he said, adding that there was still much to do in 2018 and much that could stand in the young company’s way. How long is the list of to-dos?
“How much time do you have,” he said.
Clarke recently told another publication that “aquaculture is moving into more extreme locations in Canada”, a nod, perhaps, that the industry he serves is moving in lock-step with aquaculture in Norway, where “out to sea” is the 15-year-old mantra. Or, he might have just read about developments in Norway and was keeping his company current.
A Canadian net-pen innovation at Poseidon is innovative life-support equipment that distributes oxygen across a grow-out to keep algae and sickness away.