Åkerblå and FoMAS in joint venture on Iceland: “Icelanders look to Norway for expertise”

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Kicking off 1st October.

“Icelandic producers have been in touch; they’re eager to have discussions with us, particularly concerning fish health. We have made a couple of trips over to Iceland, and during the last 6-10 months we have been assessing whether or not we should establish a company in Iceland,” Roger Sørensen, managing director of the fish health services firm Åkerblå said in a recent interview with SalmonBusiness.

Åkerblå Managing Director Roger Sørensen. PHOTO: Trond Hammervik

Sørensen said his firm had been contacted by FoMAS, which is part-owned by Åkerblå, to consider a possible cooperation for establishing a separate company on Iceland.

“We’re in the final phase now, which includes the establishment of a new company, where Åkerblå owns 50 percent and FoMAS owns 50 percent.”

The company will be Icelandic, but owned by Norwegians. Its actual location hasn’t been decided yet, but Reykjavik has been suggested as a natural site.

The Norwegian newspaper Hitra-Froya was first to report on the forthcoming establishment.

“Norway the go-to for expertise”
“Why do you think you were contacted by Icelandic salmon farmers?”

“I think they are on the hunt for cutting-edge expertise. The way I see it, and this is my personal opinion, the Icelandic industry has had to face some serious challenges right up to the present day. They look very much to Norway and the way we do things,” said Sørensen.

There’s little doubt that Icelandic producers are taking all necessary precautions now that they are in their third marine farming period. The first two attempts failed. Recently, bacterial kidney disease (BKD) has proved a massive challenge for companies, including Arnarlax.

Sørensen gets why Icelandic salmon farmers are looking beyond their own frontiers.

“It makes sense that they are getting in touch, and are doing absolutely the right thing by investing in fish health,” he said, before adding that the producers were very specific in their requirements.

“They don’t want newly qualified veterinarians. They want people with experience”.

Keeping mum about future customers
Åkerblå will be taking staff, each with 25-30 years’ experience, with them when they start up. FoMAS Managing Director Solveig Nygård, will play a key role in the establishment of the company.

“They will be there from the beginning to ensure everything kicks off to a good start,” Sørensen said.

“Who are your potential customers?”

“I’d prefer to not answer on that just yet”.

Norwegian companies Måsøval Fiskeoppdrett, Midt-Norsk Havbruk, Norway Royal Salmon and SalMar have already established operations on Iceland.

“Why is Iceland of interest to you?”

“Iceland represents new challenges, which is exciting for us and FoMAS. It enables us to further develop our expertise, and in turn, we contribute with our experience,” concluded Sørensen.