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Promising results for SalMar Ocean Farm 1 Facility. SalMar has now completed the first production cycle at its new Ocean Farm 1 facility in Norway, which the company says represents an important step forward for the aquaculture industry.

“We have reached another milestone in our quest to farm fish in new areas further out to sea, where salmon can be produced on its own terms,” says SalMar CEO Olav-Andreas Ervik.

In 2016, the Ocean Farm project was the first to receive development licences from the Norwegian authorities. Its objective is to achieve a reduced environmental footprint, greater fish welfare and provide a solution to the shortage of suitable production sites facing the industry.

Ocean Farm 1 is a pilot project, and has focused particularly on biological conditions and fish welfare. It has been a large and challenging undertaking that has involved the testing and development of new and innovative equipment technologies which will benefit the entire industry.

The installation is located in Frohavet, off the coast of Frøya. Harvesting of its fish stocks began at the end of September last year and was completed earlier this week. SalMar confirms that after 15 months at sea, the fish have grown very well and have a consistently high quality. Few salmon lice have been observed, and it has not been necessary to carry out a single delousing treatment.

“In short, these results show us that we are heading in the right direction. The biological results are proof of that. We are confident that farming salmon further out to sea is the right way to go,” says Ervik.

He added: “With the Ocean Farm project, SalMar is continuing to build on what it sees as the fundamental strengths of offshore fish farming in Norway. The Norwegian Sea is the very cradle of the North Atlantic salmon population, with a high water exchange rate and favourable temperatures from the Gulf Stream.

“Last September, Ocean Farm 1 suffered an unplanned tilt. A small portion of the net was briefly under water. A total of 82 escaped fish were recaptured near the installation. In consultation with the authorities, and with the assistance of the highly respected Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), a monitoring programme was launched. In this connection, several pound net stations were set up near the mouths of important salmon rivers along the central Norwegian coast. A total of 40 salmon rivers were kept under surveillance. The monitoring programme’s final report will be published later this winter. So far, however, there has been no unusual influx of escaped farmed salmon in the rivers flowing into the Namsenfjord or Trondheimsfjord.

“We therefore feel confident that only a relatively small number of fish escaped from Ocean Farm 1. Now that the installation has been completely emptied, we can conclude that the level of loss was no greater than is usual in the industry as a whole. Almost one million fish were transferred to the installation in the autumn of 2017. Production loss amounted to 15,805 fish, or around 1.5 per cent, which is within the normal margin for error in the industry.

“That being said, we cannot emphasise too strongly that we take the incident which caused this issue extremely seriously. We have carried out both in-house and external investigations, which have identified several areas we could improve on and several measures have been implemented as a result.”