Iceland firm seeks land based licence to farm salmon
AN Icelandic aquaculture company has applied to build a land based salmon farm in a small community in the north east of the country.
Iceland is looking to grow its fish farming industry over the next decade and during the summer it commissioned a study into the environmental impact of any expansion, which is now being hotly debated.
The report ruled out fish farming in the Isafjordur region, for example, but this has drawn criticism from some of its more isolated communities, who have lost traditional fish processing jobs and now want to be considered for any future fish farming developments.
But this application, by the company Fiskeldi Austfjarðar – or Ice Fish Farm, is unusual in that it is on land. Most Icelandic farms are offshore.
However, the national broadcaster ruv.is reports that the proposed site at Kópasker is in an important nature conservation area dating from the end of the Ice Age, which means that an environmental assessment will have to be carried out before any planning approval is granted.
It would also have to be redesignated as an industrial area. The farm would cover around 5,000 square metres and produce 2,000 tonnes of salmon a year.
Ice Fish Farm is a relatively young farming company. It was established in the summer of 2012 and now produces sea reared trout and salmon in Iceland’s eastern fjords.
It says it operates an eco-friendly fish farming business and has received Aqua Gap verification on its production and harvesting. Currently, it holds an 11,000 tonnes licence but has applied for additional capacity for 43,000 tonnes.
The company produces its own smolt and has a well equipped harvesting station at Djupivogur, which it describes as a logistically excellent location, with easy air freight access from Keflavik, along with good shipping arrangements.
Ice Fish Farm believes that its plan will help stimulate the local economy and it seems to have the support of the community, which says it remains optimistic that approval will be granted.
The company has also applied to significantly expand production of salmon and trout at its existing sites in the east fjords region, which may mean increasing the size of some farms.
Meanwhile, Rögnvaldur Guðmundsson, CEO of AkvaFuture, told a conference on the environment and nature conservation that Iceland could become a pioneer in aquaculture technology.
He referred to the aquaculture industry in Norway, where the Oslo government has embarked on an ambitious plan to massively boost its aquaculture sector over the next 30 years despite battling against a number of environment problems.
Guðmundsson revealed that his company was developing closed cages to minimise infection. The company harvested 200 tonnes of salmon last year and plans to reach 5,500 tonnes by 2019. While it was not possible to totally prevent fish from escaping, he said his company had not lost a single fish for the past six years.