In Andoya in Nordland, the first salmon are just weeks away from being sent to the world market.
– says Martin Rasmussen, managing director of Andfjord Salmon, showing off a ten-month-old salmon, an amazingly good specimen.
Last week saw the official opening of Antfjord Salmon, Norway’s largest land-based hatchery.
– This is a concept on land with maritime advantages, says Rasmussen.
The fish swimming pool is located below sea level, and seawater is taken from Andfjorden.
– It’s a great way to produce food in terms of animal welfare, environmental effects, but also the community here in Andoya.
Rasmussen believes they have the most environmentally friendly breeding facility.
– Because we facilitate biologically good fish health and have full control over environmental impacts.
Zero salmon lice and escape
According to the manager, this is a cost-effective way of salmon farming, resulting in no salmon lice, escapement and low mortality.
And the aim is to produce fish cheaper than an offshore plant.
– That is the starting point. Low energy, good biology and low cost.
They also use relatively little feed, less than one kilogram for every kilogram of salmon.
– There is a step in the pool. If everyone has access to food, there will be fewer fights over food. It is a social democratic way of running a salmon farm.
– Brutal interventions
Antfjord Salmon plans to improve this operation and has now started building two new ponds.
It is also planned to construct 50 ponds in the next ten years. They will then become the fourth largest salmon producer in Norway.
– We are deluded to have good growth. It won’t take many more ponds before we make a good profit.
But not everyone thinks land-based agriculture is as pretty as it seems.
– They explode the space for such facilities in the coastal zone with brutal interventions. This is dramatic and one of the reasons why we should say no to today’s land-based farming practices, says Truls Glovsen, head of the nature conservation association for Helgemorgan.
He believes that the regulations are too poor and allow many municipalities to be driven by ambitious agricultural projects without taking into account the overall burden of this vulnerable zone.
– And in Antoya, there is a vast area that was natural. We cannot continue like this when we are in a natural crisis.
– Comment is not controlled
– We fear that the agricultural industry will be pulled in the direction of matching the paragraphs, but not the environmental requirements. We think it is better to move to closed cages in the sea than to destroy coastal zones.
In December last year, applications for licenses for agricultural facilities on land for Semman, Auri and Rainbow Auri were temporarily suspended. According to the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries, the suspension will apply until the new regulations come into effect.
The shutdown will last till June this year. The Nature Conservancy is happy with this.
– Because it’s an out-of-control concept, even if the individual plants are fine, says Kulovsen.
In Glovson’s critique, Rasmussen says it’s important to put things in perspective.
– We use 0.5 percent of the coastal zone. 90,000 tons of salmon can be produced there. Andfjord Salmon’s manager says it’s a very efficient use of land and an energy-efficient way to produce food.
He says that they have carried out thorough processes together with the residents of Andøya and that it is important to create jobs in northern Norway.
– Strandsona may be a bigger problem in southern Norway than in northern Norway.
– Good with innovation
Large natural encroachments and energy use mean that even Storting representative Lars Haltbrecken (SV) is skeptical about agricultural facilities on land.
– Apart from facilities on the ground primarily to solve the problem of escape and spread of infection, he said Brønnøysund’s newspaper.
On the other hand, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran (Ap) welcomes such farms.
– Good thing we have innovation, I visited the facility in Andoya. It’s a wonderful facility and nice people, he tells Helgemorgan.
Norway produces about 1.5 million tons of farmed salmon, and according to Skjæran, it is not conceivable that all of them should be produced on land.
– Agriculture will come to our coastal zone even as we work hard to facilitate aquaculture in the sea. What happens to our coastal zone will be a concern for years to come.
But a new structure must be established.
– I welcome this innovation, but technological development has challenged the current framework for land-based agriculture. We must clearly distinguish between what is sea-based and what is land-based.
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