Andfjord Salmon closes in on release of first smolts to land-based system
Andfjord Salmon, the company developing a land-based laminar flow-through system for farming Atlantic salmon in Norway, has just announced that preparations for the first smolt release are on target to take place at the end of June.
The salmon smolts will be released into the first pool at Kvalnes, on the island of Andøya, and take the company one step further toward its stated ambition of creating the most sustainable and fish-friendly facility of its kind.
“We are building a land-based facility on the salmon’s terms, and our set-up is based on the idea of recreating the natural habitat of the fish. We have also applied this philosophy when planning the smolt release in late June, as it coincides with the wild salmon’s migration period here at Andøya,” Andfjord Salmon CEO Martin Rasmussen said. “The smolts are being conditioned to benefit from the increasing amount of natural daylight and rising temperatures when they are released into our sea pool.”
The first pool became operational earlier this year, and has since been running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure that all systems are working to plan.
“We have conducted a continuous and complete technical and organizational simulation during this period, to make sure that all technology, equipment and personnel are well prepared for the smolt release,” Rasmussen said. “Biological sensors have been installed, the cleaning robots have been extensively tested, back-up systems and plans have been trialed, and the pipeline that will receive the fish has been put in place. I am pleased and proud that everything has gone according to plan.”
Chief Operations Officer Christian Torgersen said conditions in the pool are designed to be optimal for the salmon to thrive, with the early days of the smolt release being the most essential.
“The first month is a critical time for the smolts and we will be closely monitoring their feed response, health, and growth rates. We will reserve around 20 percent of their daily feed to be distributed by hand, as this is the best way to observe behavior. Visual monitoring is as important as what goes on in the control room,” he said.
Andfjord has signed a long-term strategic feed agreement with Skretting, which is tailor-making feed to suit the flow-through technology and ensure that optimum water quality can be maintained. The initial feed incorporates the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, on which salmon feed in the wild. It is produced by local company Zooca, and Andfjord Salmon is the first aquaculture company in the world to use it in a commercial setting.
The first operational phase has a planned production capacity of 1,000 metric tons (MT), and blasting and excavation work for the pools comprising phase 2 is underway. When phase 2 is completed, output is expected to rise to 12,600 MT in the next couple of years. A further increase to 19,000 MT will be achieved once phase 3 is built on adjacent land.
Andfjord Salmon recently secured a NOK 50 million (USD 5.3 million, EUR 4.9 million) loan from Sparebank 1 Nord Norge, to help continue the phase 2 build-out and to get phase 3 underway.
Land and land rights for two more farming areas have also been secured, and the company intends to build farming units capable of producing 25,000 MT each when municipal approval is granted – which the company said it hopes will happen later this year. Further development is also planned at the Kvalnes site, and once all phases of the project are complete, the projected production capacity is 90,000 MT HOG.
“We are highly dedicated to local job and value creation and embracing the unique local environmental conditions. We believe that this provides us and our fish with a competitive advantage both nationally and internationally,” Rasmussen said.
The company’s first quarter financials reflect its start-up status. Chief Financial Officer Bjarne Martinsen explained that the company is in a development phase and does not yet generate revenue.
“Andfjord Salmon had an operating loss of NOK 9.9 million (USD 1.1 million, EUR 975,870) during the first quarter, compared to a loss of NOK 7.2 million (USD 765,000, 709,821) in the same period last year. The change reflects a ramping up of personnel and operations in preparation for the first smolt release,” he said.
Cash and deposits held at the end of the first quarter 2022 were NOK 18.9 million (USD 2 million 1.8 million), not including the NOK 50 million (USD 5.3 million, EUR 4.9 million) bank loan, NOK 20 million (USD 2.1 million, EUR 1.9 million) in undrawn credit facility and NOK 5 million (USD 531,0000, EUR 492,000) in available grants.
Image courtesy of Andfjord Salmon