Is amberjack the next salmon?

National Prawn Co. (NPC) said on Tuesday at the European Seafood Exposition that it is nearing the next step in its expansion into fish aquaculture. Already a leader in prawn aquaculture, the Saudi Arabia-based company says it is ready to stock its new fish hatchery with amberjack.

NPC said it is prepared to introduce amberjack broodstock to its new land-based facility as soon as construction is finalized in June.

When the facility is ready, the recirculation system with eight independent units will be able to allow the fish to spawn year-round, with an annual production capacity of 4 million fry.

“It’s very modern technology. What it will do is allow us to have fish spawning all year long because it’s all under temperature and light control. So when the fish have fully adapted to the system, we will get eggs 12 months a year,” said Jonathan Moir, general manager-fish for NPC.

“Our goal in the first year of production is maybe 100,000 or 200,000 fish and then ramping up to full production needs, which are only going to be under 2 million fish, half the capacity of the hatchery,” he adds. “We will have product going to market next year, probably in the latter half of 2011.”

By 2013 or 2014, the facility should be operating at full production needs, resulting in 5,000 metric tons.

Because amberjack is a popular sushi fish, NPC will focus on areas with established sushi markets.

“It’s a popular sushi fish so there’s good potential of getting it into new markets. Our primary protocol will be to go where people already have it — the Japanese market to start with and then looking at other sushi markets most predominantly,” said Laurence Cook, NPC’s director of corporate communications.

“Many of us in the industry feel that this is the next salmon,” said Moir.

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