GE salmon producer AquaBounty purchases Bell Fish aquaculture facility
AquaBounty Technologies will seek to produce its genetically engineered salmon inside the United States following its acquisition of an aquaculture facility in Indiana from Bell Fish Company.
The USD 14 million (EUR 12.5 million) cash purchase was announced by the company on Tuesday, 13 June, and is expected to close within the next 30 days. The facility in Albany, Indiana is one of the largest recirculating aquaculture systems in the world. It was previously used by Bell Fish to produce salmon, perch and steelhead trout.
Maynard, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty is the developer of AquAdvantage salmon, the world’s first genetically engineered salmon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2015 that the salmon, which is Atlantic salmon modified with a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon and a promoter sequence from an ocean pout that enables it to grow faster, is safe to eat.
In a press release, AquaBounty said the facility will provide the company “with a land-based, contained aquaculture system to grow AquAdvantage salmon near major demand centers in the USD 2 billion [EUR 1.8 billion] U.S. Atlantic salmon market.”
“The United States currently imports over 92 percent of the farmed Atlantic salmon it consumes,” the company said. “AquAdvantage salmon will offer the opportunity for a viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product.”
Once fully operational, the current facility will have an expected annual capacity of 1,200 metric tons – the equivalent of more than USD 10 million (EUR 9 million) in value annually, according to current Atlantic salmon prices. AquaBounty said the facility's first harvest of AquAdvantage salmon could come as soon as the third quarter of 2019, “if anticipated timelines are achieved.”
“This is significantly faster than other land-based facilities due to the quicker time to market for AquAdvantage salmon,” it said.
If necessary, the Indiana plant can be expanded to accommodate the company’s potential future expansion, AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish said.
"This acquisition marks an important milestone and provides the company with its first commercial-scale facility in the United States for growing eco-friendly AquAdvantage salmon,” AquaBounty CEO Ronald Stotish said. “This site will enable production of healthy Atlantic salmon, which will not require vaccines or antibiotics, in a sustainable and responsible manner close to domestic consumers."
In its release, AquaBounty said it was also considering the purchase of other aquaculture production facilities in the U.S., as well as in Canada, where the government has also declared its product safe for consumption.