Aarskog: ‘Whoever solves sea lice, come and see me, because we need help’
March 6, 2014, 7:27 am
By Neil Ramsden
Marine Harvest CEO, Alf-Helge Aarskog
Asked what the single biggest issue for the salmon farming industry to overcome in 2014/ 2015 was, Marine Harvest CEO Alf Helge Aarskog did not hesitate to point to sea lice.
During a panel discussion at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen (read our blog here), the executive said the main research and development spend for his company, and others by the sounds of things, would go on attempting to solve the problem the pest poses for production costs.
This was a problem that had to be solved before Norway looked at growing its production capacities with a rolling maximum allowable biomass, he stated.
Arne Fredheim of the research organization Sintef confirmed sea lice was the big issue currently, agreeing with Aarskog’s assessment that if world protein requirements demand aquaculture growth, but sea lice limits that growth in salmon, then controlling the sanitary issue must take priority.
Not that long ago Norwegian production costs were at NOK 0.20 per kilogram – now they near NOK 1/kg
Harald Sveier, technical manager for Leroy Seafood, agreed sea lice and anaemic gill disease too needed focus in order to reduce production costs. Not that long ago Norwegian production costs were at NOK 0.20 per kilogram – now they near NOK 1/kg, he said.
Sveier also said other offshore marine industries, like oil, had things to teach the salmon industry, in the other theme that came out of this particular panel.
“Norway is the most likely to have the competence to move farming offshore. We can’t be afraid to try it, or eventually somebody else will do it and become the leader,” said Fredheim in agreement.
Both the Leroy and Marine Harvest men referred to test projects their companies had in the works looking at offshore farming, where the industry was destined to move to, said Sveier.
Leroy has developed ‘Preline’, a large, closed floating system to allow ongrowing of salmon at sea, as well as offshore testing sites – which he said had been wrecked by the conditions, an illustration of having to spend money to develop future tools.
For its part, Marine Harvest has developed enormous tanks for the ongrowing of salmon in closed conditions, as well as tank ships which could support multiple closed containers of salmon at sea while presumably being able to withstand waves, the main challenge for offshore farming.
Einar Wathne of the Norwegian feed producer Ewos, also sitting on the panel, said the focus for the industry was “co-op-etition”.
“Although we all here are competitors, it is collaborative efforts and investment which will allow us to pass hurdles, whether that be feed or sea lice-related.”