First Norcod fry go to sea

Published on
January 24, 2020

The first cod fry from pioneering aquaculture venture Norcod have been successfully put to sea, taking the company one step closer to realizing its ambition of becoming the world's top producer of sustainably farmed cod.

The fry were shipped by well-boat from a hatchery operated jointly with partner Namdal Settefisk AS, to sites located a 12-hour steam away.

Norcod Managing Director Rune Eriksen said the fish had endured the journey well.

“The transfer of fish by sea was perfected on salmon, but we have found that cod transfer equally well, with minimal stress,” he said.

Norcod recently signed a collaborative deal with Namdal Settefisk to help speed up the supply of fresh cod year-round. The current aim is to reach a harvest volume of 36,000 metric tons per year.

“We have two of our own facilities, which will come onstream from June 2020, and this land phase has developed much faster than we had anticipated. Our aim is to set up eight more over the next few years, but in the meantime, partnerships will help to move the project forward,” Eriksen said.

Female cod produce large volumes of eggs, which hatch after 14 days and are weaned onto live feed a week later. Early cod farming projects struggled to get the feeding of the hatchlings right, which led to spinal deformities and other issues, but selective breeding, advances in feed technology, and considerable research to gain a greater understanding of the cod’s life stages are helping to overcome these issues.

Fry are generally transferred to sea pens when they reach a weight of 60 to 75 grams, but the first batch of fry fish put to sea this month had an average weight of 140 grams, with the second batch larger at 215 grams. In total, nearly 200,000 fry made the journey. Norcod anticipates they will reach their target weight of 4 to 4.5 kilograms by June 2021, though Eriksen said this date may be brought forward if the fish grow as well at sea as they have in the hatchery.

“We work closely with Aller Aqua in Denmark on the feed and are very pleased with the results,”, he said.

For Eriksen, seeing the project move into the sea farming phase was an important moment for Norcod and for the wider cod farming industry.

“I'm delighted with the latest developments, and for me personally it's clear confirmation that Norcod is on the right track,” Eriksen said. “Healthy, happy fish are our top priority and the operation could not have gone more smoothly.”

Photo courtesy of Norcod

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