New Year launch for salmon RAS pilot

Work on the pilot plant will begin in earnest in January

A PILOT land based farm in Norway will lay the grounds for the RAS production of more than 30,000 tonnes of salmon, said the pioneers behind the project.

Havlandet, in Norway’s westernmost city of Florø, is starting construction work on the site in January, after more than 17 years of experience with land based farming of other species.

‘The first step in the long-term development is to produce two generations within the pilot plant,’ said Geir Johannesen of Havlandet Aquaculture.

‘The philosophy is to begin on a small scale and then take it step by step, based on systematic learning and professional development.’

Norwegian company Scale AQ will supply and install the RAS technology at the plant.

Johannesen added: ‘Currently, we have a licence of 10,000 tonnes of salmon onshore, although plans are to build a larger facility based on the experience of the pilot.

‘With the available area and production facilities, a capacity of more than 30,000 tonnes of salmon can be produced, in addition to a significant production of cod.

‘Looking ahead over the next 30 to 50 years at Fjord Base in Fløro, one shall see a gradual phasing in of land based fish farming, where at the same time oil and gas operations shall see a demise.’

Although there are a number of RAS facilities in operation, few produce fish to harvestable weight, said Børge Søraas, vice president of land based at Scale AQ.

‘This is our first project in Norway where salmon shall live their entire lives on land,’ he said. ‘Previously, this has only been achieved outside of the country’s borders.

‘We look forward to starting this project and expect this to be a great showcase for both us and Havlandet.’

Scale AQ said it wanted to link the plant to its existing technology projects – in automation and the development of onshore facilities.

The company is also developing new technology for data collection, analysis, autonomy and the maintenance of smolt and post smolt plants.

Bård Skjelstad, chief technology officer of Scale AQ, said: ‘With today’s technology, many decisions are made based on subjective perceptions and experiences.

‘There are many manual operations that could have been made safer and more efficient, both for the fish and personnel; these could have provided us with data for constant evaluation, control and development.

‘In the long term, we foresee a greater autonomy, for both technological and biological reasons.

‘Scale AQ believes that the experience gained from the Havlandet project will become of great importance for the industry in the future, not least due to our partner being very motivated towards this approach.’

Some ground work at Florø has already started, but building will begin in the New Year. The first smolt will be introduced in Q3 2020 and, if all goes according to plan, the first generation of fish will be harvested in the autumn of 2021.