New aquaculture strategy: Tailored for SalMar?

Aslak Berge

The open ocean is the canvas for farmed salmon growth. And SalMar is way ahead of the competition.

Last Friday it was announced that the Directorate of Fisheries had received an application from SalMar’s subsidiary Ocean Farming for a site in the Norwegian Sea. It is the first time anyone has applied for a licence to farm salmon in the open ocean.

SalMar will place its new aquaculture rig “Smart Fish Farm”, which is being sought to produce 19,000 tonnes of maximum allowed biomass, at in the ocean. The rig, which will be twice the size of its predecessor, “Ocean Farm 1,” will draw on the experience the company has made on two generations of salmon production here.

Although other companies also plan offshore salmon farming, including Nordlaks and Norway Royal Salmon in particular, none of them are ready to take their massive fish farms, welded in steel, into the open sea.

Not yet at least.

PHOTO: Aslak Berge

Key area
SalMar has spectacular plans for offshore farming.

“Ocean farms are a key area for SalMar,” chairman Atle Eide said last spring.

He envisions investments of several billion EUR worth of investment at sea. This is new territory – with enormous possibilities. Besides its ambitions in the Norwegian Sea, the company, via 50 per-cent owned Scottish Seafarms, has far advanced plans for offshore farming off Scotland.

When Minister of Fisheries Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen on Thursday afternoon announced a new aquaculture strategy, area was an important key word.

“The aquaculture industry is in a rapid development. New technology makes it possible to produce further out at the ocean and in large volumes on land, while also facilitating the development of coastal aquaculture. This is where the management must be included,” Ingebrigtsen stated.

One card
That was like sweet music to the ears of SalMar boss Gustav Witzøe.

He has recently bet heavily on one card: Farming in the open sea. He has not cared much about either closed-containment facilities in the sea or land-based salmon farms. Like almost everyone else, he has built facilities to produce larger smolt, but the salmon will still be produced in the ocean, he believes.

It is not a given that SalMar will be a future winner with this. But the odds are good. The company knows what it’s going to do. The experience of the first aquaculture rig has added thirst for mew. The risk is limited. Risk/reward, as it is called in the financial terms, is beneficial.

While the vast majority of those who put money on future salmon growth put these in untested land-based facilities, SalMar’s salmon goes against the flow. Both the company and the salmon have made a good profit before.

SalMars “Smart Fish Farm”. Illustraton: Mariculture

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