“It will be the end of the Norwegian aquaculture industry as we know it”

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Fish farming entrepreneur Roger Hofseth believes that farming in the open ocean will undermine Norway’s competitive advantage as an aquaculture nation.

Hofseth, in a reader post in the newspaper Nationen, takes a hard line against offshore farming, and the criticism has an undisguised address to SalMar.

“Now someone wants to move the farming cages far out to sea. It will be the end of the Norwegian aquaculture industry as we know it. Not only will fjord-based fish farms move the industry away from the coastal communities, they will also undermine Norway’s competitive advantage as an aquaculture nation. When clean, fresh and cold fjord water is no longer needed to run aquaculture, fish farming can in theory take place anywhere on the 70 percent of the earth’s surface that is covered by sea, “Hofseth writes.

Profit eldorado
“The offshore cages are expensive mega-constructions. For example, the “Ocean Farm 1” holds one and a half million salmon, and has a price tag of around 690 million kroner (EUR 67 million). The planned rig “Smart Fish Farm” is even larger, and will cost over 2.3 billion kroner (EUR 224 million). It is unrealistic for small and medium-sized farmers to invest in such. Thus, we are in danger of opening a profit eldorado on the high seas for the largest players, but at the same time lay the Norwegian coast fallow,” he writes further.

Smart Fish Farm. ILLUSTRATION: SalMar

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Hofseth has the solution ready. He wants the authorities to make it easier for the industry to invest in closed floating cages in Norwegian fjords.

Twice as many
“It will solve the problems of salmon lice and escapes, and in addition, sludge and waste can become biofuels and fertilizers. The price tag is also significantly lower, because a closed floating cage costs between 100 and 150 million kroner (EUR 9-14 million).”

Hofseth has also previously advocated for closed facilities via reader letters. Last, at the beginning of August, a reader post was published in Sunnmørsposten, where Hofseth suggested that fish farmers should be able to replace standing licenses in open cages with twice as many licenses in closed cages.

“Then it will quickly become more profitable to invest in closed and environmentally friendly farming technology,” he wrote.