Planning a great expansion in salmon farming

Icelandic salmon Fiskeldi Austfjarda (FA), which trades as Ice Fish Farm, has applied for a major expansion to its operations in the east of the country. The company currently holds licenses in this region totalling 11,000 metric tons; it has applied to expand these licenses by almost double, to 21,000t. It has also applied for a further 27,000t in other east coast fjords, meaning in total the firm hopes to reach 48,000t farming capacity.

“We’ve been planning an expansion to the company for some time, and finally we’ve been able to move on it,” Gudmundur Gislason, FA chairman, told the news site Undercurrent News.

“We’re fairly confident it [the application] should go through in the upcoming months.”

If approved, the extra volumes will be stocked in new pens based in the same fjords in which it operates now; Berufjordur and Faskrudsfjordur.

Gislason confirmed the application allows for the stocking of both “normal” (non-sterile) salmon, and those that have been treated to be sterile.

“We’re looking into using sterile salmon; the triploid process is one possible technique we’re watching, and there are others too,” he said. Norway Royal Salmon — which owns Icelandic firm Dyrfiskur — has obtained some green development licenses in Norway based on this development, and is researching the technology at present.

“If one of these sterile concepts proves to be economical, we will of course move to using it, to improve our operations,” said Gislason.

In the summer, Icelandic public body the the Agriculture Genetics Committee issued a statement saying that, with several large salmon farming licenses at the application stage, the government bodies that regulate the industry should stop issuing farming rights until the genetic impact of salmon farming could be determined.

For the same reason, some in Iceland have urged for a move to sterile salmon, in an effort to be more sustainable than Norwegian production, rather than lagging behind (as they see it).

Gislason told Undercurrent that since the summer of 2017 an understanding has been reached between farmers, the government and angling representatives (who make up a strong voice within the anti-aquaculture lobby).

Iceland’s Marine Research Institute (IMR) then issued a risk assessment, suggesting the country’s waters could handle 71,000t of farmed salmon without too high of a risk to wild populations.

“I think we have a better platform to move forward on now. The framework for applications is clearer now, and the process should be able to move quicker,” said Gislason.

Kristjan Davidsson, head of Iceland’s Aquaculture Association, told Undercurrent there was no official agreement in place over future licenses, but that “IMR is now evaluating mitigation operations, which we hope to result in raising of limits in certain areas”.

“We are hoping the presentation of the report will lead to more clarification and a more efficient process for the involved authorities. This remains to be seen, but we are working towards that goal. We need to get up the speed in the licensing work.”


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