Ice­land firm seeks land based li­cence to farm sal­mon

Fish Farmer - - News -

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.

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