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.