Iceland “can become fish farming pioneer”

ICELAND could lead the way in truly environmentally friendly fish farming, the head of one of the country’s  innovative aquaculture  companies has said.

Rögnvaldur Guðmundsson, CEO  of AkvaFuture, which  breeds salmon in  specially enclosed fish farms, was addressing a conference on the environment and nature conservation, when he spoke about Iceland’s potential to become a pioneer in aquaculture technology.

Iceland has already indicated that it plans to substantially grow its fish farming industry, but there is debate and not a little controversy over how fast and where the new developments should take place. A number of coastal fishing communities who have lost their traditional processing sites, see it as a way of reviving their economic fortunes.

According to the Morgunbladid website mbl.is,  Rögnvaldur Guðmundsson referred to the aquaculture industry in Norway where the Oslo government had embarked on an ambitious plan to massively boost its aquaculture sector over the next 30 years despite battling against a number of environment problems.

He said the main challenge facing   aquaculture in Norway is primarily  down  to salmon lice which had become a persistent problem. The lice also seemed to resist all attempts to get rid of it and this was not good animal welfare, he contended.

He spoke about the aquaculture industry in Norway, where the government has set an ambitious policy to boost aquaculture by 2050, but in recent years the industry has struggled with difficulties. Norway was facing a persistent problem with salmon lice despite many different attempts to get rid of it. It did not lead to good animal welfare, he contended. And, as a result, the lice problem meant production costs for aquaculture in Norway had grown tremendously in recent years.

Guðmundsson revealed that his company, Solution AkvaFuture, was  developing  specifically designed closed cages in order  to minimize infection. The company harvested  200 tonnes of salmon last year and plans to reach 5,500 tonnes by  2019. While it was not possible to totally prevent fish from escaping, he reminded his audience that his company had not lost a single fish for the past six years.

It says the  fish welfare of the salmon is well taken care of because they are allowed to swim in “a good water environment throughout its life”. This leads to  better muscle and  high quality salmon.

Because the water is taken from the deep, it  means  the salmon is not exposed to  lice and this gives a healthy appearance  and good  meat quality and texture with optimal distribution of fat and protein. AkvaFuture’s also says  it can control the entire value chain for its salmon because it has developed  and produced technology which allows the salmon to mature. It also uses renewable energy from clean hydropower, and in the sea.

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