SalMar invests in deepwater mariculture group with aims of producing salmon offshore
SalMar ASA has acquired 51 percent of the shares of Stavenger, Norway-based MariCulture AS, with the aim of partnering to develop an offshore Atlantic salmon farm near Trøndelag, Norway.
SalMar, based in Frøya, Norway, announced the investment in a press release posted on its website on 13 April. MariCulture has been working to create a semi-submersible cage for Atlantic salmon farming designed to operate on the high seas under rough weather conditions, according to SalMar.
“Its design will enable the fish to be treated for lice and diseases far less harshly but more effectively than other concepts currently in development. It will also be equipped with solutions that will make it practically escape-proof,” the company said. “If the production unit meets expectations, it will largely resolve the space and environmental challenges that the aquaculture industry is currently facing.”
The “Smart Fish Farm” concept has an estimated investment cost of NOK 1.5 billion (USD 193 million, EUR 156 million), according to SalMar. The project is currently pending the Norwegian government’s approval of 16 development licenses for the Trøndelag site, which was chosen for its proximity to SalMar’s existing salmon-farming infrastructure, including a harvesting and processing facility and hatcheries with enough capacity to produce the three million smolt necessary to keep the installation stocked, according to the company.
“SalMar will offer the company’s resources, project development competence and expertise in the operation of ocean-going fish farms for it to succeed,” the company said. “Furthermore, the accomplished technical community in Stavanger that created the ‘Smart Fish Farm’ concept will participate fully in its further development. External centers of expertise, such as Kongsberg Gruppen, will also be brought into the project.”
This concept is “entirely different from anything so far designed or developed for use by the aquaculture industry,” according to SalMar. The cage will be around 70 meters high and will have a diameter of around 160 meters, and will be built to withstand wave heights of up to 15 meters.
“If the development phase proves to be successful as anticipated, the deepwater installation will make possible fish farming operations at the high seas in the open ocean for the first time, and with scarcely any limitations on the choice of location,” SalMar said.
The company said it is still in the design phase for the cage, and that model testing is expected to be carried out at SINTEF Ocean’s marine laboratory before detailed design work and construction gets underway. In its release, SalMar expressed its desire to open the project to a research laboratory for the entire aquaculture industry, and announced a collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to study the cage and its effectiveness.
“If we succeed, it could allow the seas around Norway to retain and strengthen their position as the world’s leading producer of Atlantic salmon for a long time to come,” the company said. “While land-based fish farms can be established all over the world, the Norwegian coast is the true biological ‘home port’ for Atlantic salmon. A technology that enables salmon to be farmed in the open ocean, in their natural habitat off the Norwegian coast, could be a breakthrough step towards fulfilling the government’s ambition of making Norway the world’s leading producer of seafood.”