Aquaculture UK 2018
Leading Norwegian equipment suppliers join forces
TWO familiar names in Norwegian aquaculture, Aqualine and Steinsvik, are now able to supply turnkey solutions for sea based fish farms following a tie-up that combines the best of both companies.
Since February this year, they have both come under the umbrella of Norwegian investment firm Kverva Technology, which bought 100 per cent shares in Steinsvik in 2017 and recently acquired a 91 per cent stake in Aqualine.
The businesses will continue to focus on their respective fields of expertise. This is very important, said Stig Domaas Forre, chief commercial officer at Aqualine, because ‘to survive in the aquaculture industry, you need to be a specialist’.
However, they will be able to collaborate through shared research and development, and provide complementary products to their global customers.
Individually, Aqualine and Steinsvik are leading technology providers and together they have a projected turnover of more than NOK 1.5 billion.
The new group – which also includes RAS specialist AquaOptima, bought by Steinsvik last year - will be able to supply all services to the industry, including cage and mooring systems, Midgard cage net systems, feeding technology, monitoring systems, cameras, barges, recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) smolt plants, and parasite controls, such as the Thermolicer machine.
The joint venture between Aqualine and Steinsvik is a complex process and could take one or even two years until it is completed.
‘But already we’re working together officially and we’re doing quotes for turnkey projects together officially,’ said Forre.
Steinsvik has grown rapidly from 2004 when the former owner, Bjørn Apeland, bought the company. At this stage, the turnover within fish farming, was around NOK 5 million; today, Steinsvik generates more than NOK 1 billion.
Steinsvik’s Scottish sales base in Fort William was established about 10 years ago. Forre said the new partners are now discussing where to establish new facilities in Scotland.
Earlier this year, Innes Weir, who has 30 years’ experience in the aquaculture industry, was appointed to run the Fort William office to give the company a ‘reboot’ in the UK.
‘You have to be present in the market in order to grow it,’ said Forre. ‘We see big potential in the Scottish market.’
Forre said the company - which is the biggest supplier of cages worldwide and one of the three biggest suppliers in Norway - can supply equipment for any kind of farm site, whether sheltered or high energy.
He believes competition in the supply chain is healthy - ‘it is good for fish farmers to have competition’ – and said they all produce slightly different products anyway.
‘The industry is growing here enough to accommodate us all,’ he said, adding that the requirements of the new Scottish Technical Standard, which must be met by 2020, are increasing demand for new and upgraded equipment.
Every year, the company invests up to five per cent of its turnover in research and development to continue to improve its products, said Forre.
One result of this investment is the company’s 3D virtual reality system, which was attracting the crowds to its stand in Aviemore.
“You have to be present in the market in order to it” grow
Forre said this was a very useful training tool as it teleports the user inside the fish cage, from where they can ‘dive down’ and inspect the mooring system and check the net (although it is not used as a substitute for certification bodies’ inspections).
A farm worker in Chile, for example, can use the virtual reality goggles and have a discussion with a technician logged on to the system in Norway on how to install a component.
When Fish Farmer tried out the technology in Aviemore, it was possible to be transport- ed, by squeezing a joystick, not just to the bottom of the cage but actually underneath it. If there were any tears in the net we could have spotted them.
Aqualine is soon to run a virtual reality training course for Cooke employees in Orkney after it supplies its Midgard net cage system, described as escape proof, at a high energy site.
‘If it’s to be an escape proof system, people need to know how it works,’ said Forre.
Opposite: Aqualine’s busy stand. Above: Domaas Forre talks to a customer; a cut out cage.