RH Investments, Kvarøy Arctic eyeing land-based farms in Norway

Published on
June 29, 2020

RH Investments and Kvarøy Arctic are the latest companies to announce land-based aquaculture projects in Scandinavia.

Seafood entrepreneur Roger Hofseth, owner and CEO of Hofseth International, has purchased a former olivine mine in Sunnylvsfjorden, a fjord in Møre og Romsdal, in western Norway through his private firm RH Investments. Hofseth is now applying for a permit to use the land for salmon farming and is in discussions with recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) solutions provider Artec Aqua, to research the potential for the project. The aim is to have a flow-through system that can produce around 100,000 metric tons (MT) per year, a similar size to the planned Lighthouse salmon farm in Sotenäs, Sweden, a separate project announced in March.

Artec Aqua has already designed and built a land-based trout farm for Hofseth Aqua, which has a capacity of 10,000 to 12,000 MT per year. Hofseth Aqua also farms rainbow trout in sea pens, and chose to certify them against the Aquaculture Stewardship Council trout standard, in line with its sustainability program and Hofseth’s vision to deliver “the best rainbow trout on the market.”

In addition to Hofseth International and Hofseth Aqua, the salmon tycoon operates a number of processing companies, including Hofseth Aalesund, Hofseth Syvde, and Seafood Farmers of Norway. These specialize in the processing of salmon and trout, producing fillets and portions, hot- and cold-smoked salmon, and gravlax. Finished products are exported to more than 20 countries around the world.

The location of the planned farm is near several of Hofseth International processing facilities. Last year, the Hofseth Group processed more than 60,000 MT of salmon and trout, but has inbuilt capacity to process a further 40,000 MT.  Having control of his own salmon production, would means that Hofseth could avoid the volatility of the spot market.

To produce such a volume of fish, the 2,100-acre mining site would house 168 tanks, with a combined volume of 827,151 square meters. If permitted, an adjacent 20 million smolt production unit would be built.

“The smolt plant will be dimensioned and planned to supply smolts at an optimal rate to  support the capacity of the salmon farm,” Artec Aqua stated in a presentation on the project. “The smolt facility will be based on RAS technology. The seawater source will be desalinated for zero- to 80-gram smolts, and for smolts from 80 to 300 grams, the plant will be based on recirculated seawater.”

Whilst anticipating that his own group will invest in the new farm, Hofseth is also open to outside investors, but is waiting to see what the anticipated cost of the development will be. Hofseth’s processing and trout farming operations are partnered with Japanese company Yokohama Reito, which operates in the refrigerated warehousing and food sales sectors.

Elsewhere in Norway, Kvarøy Arctic plans to begin construction on its first land-based salmon farm this fall.

The Kvaroy, Norway-based salmon firm has until now exclusively used open-ocean net-pen farming, but with the new facility, will become the first aquaculture company in the world to invest in both traditional and land-based rearing of salmon.

The new project, called Arctic Seafarm, is located on the coastline 30 minutes south of the company’s headquarters in Kvarøy, which will allow it to take advantage of the company’s existing logistics network, Kvarøy Arctic CEO Alf-Gøran Knutsen said in a press release

“There are limitations to how much we can farm in the ocean,” Knutsen said. “We’ve been approached with projects all over the world and are confident the future of salmon farming is in this combination of ocean and land-based farms. The innovations available give us the flexibility we need to meet the growing demand.”

After it is completed, the new facility will have the ability to produce up to 15,000 metric tons of fish annually.  The recently-formed Kvarøy Smolt will supply the stock that will eventually be harvested by Kvarøy Arctic for sale in the U.S. by 2023.

The new land-based facility is designed with a flow-through construction, retrieving cold, clean water from 80 meters below sea level, a depth uninhabited by sea lice. The water is then filtered for sediment and treated with UV light before entering the flow-through system where it maintains a consistent temperature all year long, creating optimal growth conditions for the fish, according to Kvaroy.

“The flow-through system was selected because of its similarities to the ocean environment and the added advantages for mitigating pests like sea lice, controlling water temperature all year around, and avoiding possible future environmental impacts like algal blooms,” Kvarøy said.

The company can also utilize green hydro technology to power its operations and create a more closed loop system by collecting fish waste and reusing it in the form of biofuel to power its well boats and trucks.

“We believe in producing salmon in the most responsible way,” Knutsen said. “That means finding sustainable solutions that are healthy for the fish and for the environment.”

Both RH Investments and Kvarøy Arctic cited the fact that land-based systems permit more control over the farming process as a central reason for their expansion into the sector. Specifically, they cited land-based farming as giving them the ability to avoid issues with sea lice, unhealthy water temperatures, disease issues, or predators.

Photo courtesy of Kvarøy Arctic

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