Salmon farmer duo set sights on Dubai’s desert

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New land-based complex aiming to produce 2,500 tonnes of salmon annually.

Vikings Label decision to build a land-based salmon production plant in Dubai, should be seen as recognition that aquaculture in the Middle East is a growing industry. The region has an ambitious plan to be self-sufficient with fish within 10-15 years. The region’s own production is unable to meet the accelerating demand for seafood. Demand is currently met by imports from countries such as Norway and the UK.

Vikings Label is currently importing salmon to Dubai, but is now keen to venture into the aquaculture market via the construction of a land based fish farm in Dubai. Vikings Label is owned by Tore Havn and Terje Lukas Havn, who between them have many years of experience in fish farming, processing, trading and export in the aquaculture sector.

Growth
“We see huge growth potential for salmon in Dubai, and that growth will result from a combination of marine farming in Norway and land-based fish farming near the Dubai market,” said Tore Havn, CEO of Vikings Label, in a recent press release.

His son Lukas added: “The region has an innovative way of thinking and is increasingly seeking sustainable and environmentally friendly production methods. In many ways, building a land-based fish farm in the middle of the hot, dry desert is certainly untraditional and exciting. In this context we intend to take advantage of the sun’s resources by using solar energy, thereby incorporating eco-friendly solutions into our operation”.

By entering into a partnership agreement on a project of this size, both the builder and Gråkjær have a common interest in the construction project being kept within the budget framework, and are in agreement on making the right decisions that are in the best interests of the project.

Several countries
“Gråkjær’s experience from other major partnering projects tells us that this has a positive impact across the board: everything from planning and the project design and procurement phase to project execution. Particularly when it comes to the cooperation element, we find that developers are very satisfied with this cooperation model,” said Bjarte Landro, Sales and Development Manager at Gråkjær.

Lukas Havn out inspecting the proposed site.

As a turnkey contractor, Gråkjær is already building land-based fish farms as Design-Build contracts at several locations in Europe, and soon also in South Africa. Add to this the project in Dubai. A key factor also is that several of Gråkjær’s staff have hands-on experience from constructing fish farms in Dubai, and thus are well acquainted with conditions in the country,” said Gråkjær Aqua’s managing director, Morten Malle.

Doubling of production
Gråkjær will supply the design, plan/organise the project and have sole responsibility for building Vikings Label’s future land-based salmon farm complex. The plant will contain a hatchery, sections for first feeding and fry, a pre-smolt unit, a smolt and post-smolt unit, and a delivery holding tank. Annual production capacity: 2,500 tonnes of salmon.

The establishment of a land-based fish farm enterprise in the Middle East is just the beginning for Vikings Label. In the long term, the company plans to double production.

Surveys of soil conditions are currently being carried out on the site, which is located in North Ras Al Khaimah. The projection phase has already been initiated, with completion of the project anticipated by 2020.