NASF blog: Marine Harvest CEO shoots down land-based salmon farming
Undercurrent News, 9 March 2015
A fully-integrated, on-land salmon farm placed beside a major city will exist sooner or later, according to Akva Group CEO Trond Williksen.
For the next few years, a ‘post-smolt’ system – in which smolt are grown to perhaps 500g on land before being put to sea – will be the reigning method, because “why should companies jump to new technology, when this exists and works?”.
But in the future, one company will become the first to place a recirculating aquaculture system next to New York, or Singapore, or Bangkok, he said.
The slide below shows Akva’s cost estimates of the current, ‘post-smolt’ and ‘integrated’ farming methods.
“The production costs are not too different. People will say ‘but RAS has huge capex costs’, but then if you eliminate the need to buy farming licenses in the ocean… I think it’s not too different either,” said Williksen.
“There is a lot of discussion around the post-smolt now. Whether it is based on idealism, or realism, we will see. But it’s talked about a lot now,” added the CEO of the aquaculture equipment and technology provider.
Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog emphatically shot down the concept of a fully integrated, on-land salmon farm in the future, instead calling for the industry to “fight sea lice, don’t run away”.
“70% of the Earth’s surface is water, and currently we produce 2% of our food from the oceans – why on earth would we move salmon farming on land?”
It certainly won’t be any more energy efficient, and tastes no better, he added. “Even smolt production – now we have to do it on land because of biology. But if we solved those problems, it would be so much cheaper to grow smolt on land to just 100g then put them to sea,” he noted.
Sea lice is an issue which costs the salmon farming industry NOK 3- 5 billion a year, he said, but still there has not been a dedicated and concerted effort to fight it.
“Maybe we don’t need to run away; maybe we didn’t need expensive equipment, or medication,” he said. “Marine Harvest has sites where we haven’t treated for sea lice in years.”
“It takes great discipline, and everyone working together.”
If, by 2020, all Marine Harvest’s sites have achieved Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification, then it will have been proven a success, said Aarskog, adding he didn’t know why the Norwegian government hadn’t taken ASC as the standard for farming.
“Then you could just say, ‘if you have ASC, you get 3% growth on your license. If you don’t you get nothing’.”
His views on on-land farming came hot on the heels of Akva Group’s CEO Trond Williksen declaring an integrated, on-land salmon farm near an urban center would happen at some point – see further down the blog.