New Development Licenses Spur Ocean Farming

Norway has initiated free development licenses to spur new technology concepts to tackle the aquaculture industry’s acreage and environmental challenges. Many of the applicants are innovative ocean farms.

Nearly three decades ago, Norwegian aquaculture pioneer Kjell Lorentsen created headlines by placing the world’s largest offshore fish farm in Vestfjorden that was 22.5 times larger than the normal Norwegian concession. A ship towed 20 cages out to the 250 meter-deep waters about four nautical miles off the coast of Nordland.

 “This was totally unusual in 1988,” says Lorentsen. “It was in totally open ocean waters.”

The Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries reacted swiftly then by changing the regulations to forbid his rough fish antics. Now the authorities have changed their mindset and acknowledged the growth limitations facing the Norwegian aquaculture industry – namely sea lice, fish escapes and shortage of coastal acreage – and paved the way for ocean farming possibilities.

 

FREE CONVERTIBLE CONCESSIONS

As part of a pilot project launched this past November, the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs announced it would grant free development concessions for up to 15 years for projects promoting technology that can solve the environmental and acreage challenges facing the aquaculture sector. If the project fulfills a set of fixed criterions, the license can be converted into commercial licenses at a cost of NOK 10 million. This is significantly below the NOK 50-60 million price tag during the last commercial round.

 

“This is a way to reduce the risk,” says Mari Aksnes, an advisor at the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. “(The conversion) is based on the fact that they have made big investments that benefit the industry.”

 

“The government has previously issued free research concessions. But these licenses mark the first time that the authorities allow for the initially free concessions to be converted into a commercial aquaculture license,” says Aksnes. The other major difference is that the new licenses involve much larger and more specific technology-oriented projects that focus on the acreage limitations from coastal fish farming and environmental challenges, such as sea lice.

Gigante Offshore has developed a supertanker concept for ocean farmingSource:RunePDesign/Gigante Offshore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUPERTANKER FARMS

As of February, at least eight Norwegian companies had applied for the new development licenses. Måsoval Fiskeoppdrett has sought three concessions for its salmon delousing ship HeliXir. AkvaDesign has applied for six concessions for its compact closed cage systems, while Marine Harvest together with Hauge Aqua have applied for 14 licenses towards a competing egg-shaped closed farming concept.

 

GIFAS Marine and Atlantis Subsea Farming, a subsidiary of AKVA Group established in collaboration with Sinkaberg-Hansen and Egersund Net, have both proposed submerged fish farming cages for their concessions. But as many as three companies - Nordlaks Oppdrett, Marine Harvest subsidiary Ocean Farming and Gigante Offshore – have submitted new ocean farming concepts.

 

Lorentzen is the man behind both GIFAS Marine and Gigante Offshore’s ocean farming concept. He plans to build the world’s largest “supertanker”, which will be 500 meters long and 40 meters wide. Gigante has applied for eight concessions, which could produce up to 10,000 tons of salmon annually.

 

His proposed ocean farm would both tackle acreage challenges as well as sea lice. The vessel will have a steel skirt covering the first 10 meters – where lice thrive best – forcing salmon to swim in the 30-meter space below. There would also be double netting to prevent escapes, another environmental challenge for salmon farmers.

 

AUTOMATED OCEAN FARMING

Seafood producer Nordlaks and NSK Ship Design have developed a competing 430 meter-long floating farm concept called Havfarm (Seafarm) that resembles a ship, but remains anchored via buoys. Nordlaks plans to build three vessels at a cost of NOK 600-700 million each, with a possible start-up in 2017. In total, the six steel cages could produce up to two million salmon, equivalent to 10,000 tons.

“At the time Inge Berg from Nordlaks contacted us, we had previously been flirting with the idea of producing a larger construction from scratch,” says Thomas Myre, NSK sales manager. “Berg came up with a very thorough idea of how to move from aquaculture pens to aquaculture ships in the open ocean.”

 

The biggest technology difference from Gigante’s supertanker concept is Havfarm’s self-reliance. Remotely operated vehicles will monitor the cage structure underwater for escapes and a cargo railing system on the steel structure above will automatically service the floating farm. De-lousing would take place onboard without the need for well-boats and without the use of chemicals. 

 

“Havfarm offers the possibility for a new era in Norwegian aquaculture,” says Inge Berg, Nordlaks chief executive. “If we get the opportunity, Nordlaks can contribute to the development of the aquaculture industry of the future in a totally new and sustainable manner.”

Havfarm, Høydal vessel ocean farming. Illustration: NSK Shipdesign

 

OFFSHORE OIL INSPIRED

The company that has advanced the furthest in the application process is Ocean Farming, a subsidiary of Norwegian seafood producer SalMar. The Fisheries Directorate awarded the company its first eight concessions this February for its offshore oil platform-based farming concept.

 

Gunnar Myrbøe, a former project leader for the Snøhvit gas field offshore Norway, came up with the idea of a circular steel structure that is fixed to the seabed by eight catenary mooring lines, similar to floating oil platforms. Together with engineers at Global Maritime, they have developed a submerged cage design that can house 1.6 million salmon in up to 300 meters depth. Ocean Farming will invest NOK 690 million in the full-scale pilot project. The concessions are for a period of seven years, with a start-up expected in mid-2017.

 

“This is not going to be a walk in the park, but it will have a huge potential for the entire industry if this development project succeeds,” says Leif Inge Nordhammer, SalMar chief executive. “The award confirms that the new strategy with aquaculture development permits has the characteristics needed to stimulate the Norwegian aquaculture industry to invest in costly innovation and technological development for increased sustainability at a completely different scale than before. Both government and parliament have through this strategy created an effective tool to strengthen an important growth industry for Norway - and for the world.”

 

The article is published in the latest issue of Norway Exports Seafood, Fishing & Aquaculture. Read more articles and view Norwegian exporters here.

Related articles

Latest articles

Ship Energy Efficiency: The Fourth Wave

Shipping has seen three waves of energy efficiency trends since 2007. The latest buzz is the Big Data revolution.

Sustainable Fish Farming Solutions: From Feed to Egg

The challenge of rising fish feed and sea lice costs is stimulating new sustainable technology solutions in Norwegian aquaculture. In the future, producers might raise salmon in egg-shaped offshore farms.

Standardization Key During Low Oil Price

The Norwegian petroleum industry is focusing on standardized solutions, inspired by Formula One and Lego, to help tackle rising field development costs.

Blue Growth for a Green Future

The Norwegian government recently launched its new maritime strategy “Blue Growth for a Green Future” aimed at keeping the country’s second largest export industry competitive and sustainable.

New Development Licenses Spur Ocean Farming

Norway has initiated free development licenses to spur new technology concepts to tackle the aquaculture industry’s acreage and environmental challenges. Many of the applicants are innovative ocean farms.

Bucking the trend: Norwegian Shelf Still Attractive

The Norwegian Continental Shelf continues to be attractive even amidst the low oil price environment. Statoil’s giant Johan Sverdrup oil field development is just the latest example.

British Showing Great Interest in “Frozen at sea”

The British are the world’s largest consumers of cod. 70 percent is used in the “fish and chips” market. Lately several Norwegian owners of trawlers have discovered the British market for the “frozen at sea” concept.

The many reasons to choose Norwegian seafood

There is an ongoing debate regarding the pros and cons of eating wild or farmed fish, or, in fact, eating seafood at all. In this article we look at the arguments for and against wild and farmed fish. Seafood is not just a...

New Ways to Enhance Oil Recovery

Norwegian companies are testing more advanced ways to enhance oil recovery, everything from converting shuttle tankers to stimulate wells and springing titanium needs inside liner holes to open up tight formations.