Land-based salmon production reaching Chilean levels by end of decade is a “ridiculous claim”, says Mowi executive

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Mowi Canada East managing director Alan Cook is skeptical of Kepler Cheuvreux’s crystal ball.

On Wednesday, SalmonBusiness reported Kepler Cheuvreux’s seafood analyst comments on the future of land-based salmon farming.

25-30 per-cent of global supply
In an editorial in the business magazine Kapital, investment banker Christian Nordby wrote: “We won’t be particularly surprised if land-based production corresponds to Chilean production (25-30 per-cent of global supply) at the close of this decade.”

The comments prompted veteran fish farmer and Mowi Canada East managing director Alan Cook to share his own thoughts on the matter via Linkedin.

“This is a ridiculous claim,” he wrote.

“It has taken the Chilean industry more than 30 years to reach its current level of production and the journey has been neither smooth nor easy. Land-based salmon farming is at least as hard as farming salmon in sea cages if not harder. This segment may prove successful in time but many of these projects will not make it to the finish line,” wrote Cook.

Skepticism
Cooke has over three decades of high-level experience in salmon farming, having worked at Mowi, Cooke Aquaculture, Icicle Seafoods, Marel and most recently NZ King Salmon.

Cook has been vocal about his skepticism about land-based. In 2018, he told SalmonBusiness he was more convinced the future lies in moving production further offshore not onto land.

“The results from the land-based production trials I have reviewed showed that mortality was high and growth was no better than in a net pen. I’ve visited several of them and the list of bankruptcies is a mile long,” he said at the time.

Commenting on the same thread, senior vice president of the startup Stealth-Mode and RAS project investor Al Cohen disagreed.

“In disbelief”
“There is an obvious cognitive comparison bias/heuristic to draw the conclusion that it took the Chile Cage salmon industry 30 years to reach this level, thus the land-based salmon industry will have a harder time. The young investment banker forgot that land-based fish farming has been around for ages. Land-based salmon farming research has started at Atlantic Sapphire in Denmark for more than a decade,” he wrote.

“Land-based salmon farming is revolutionising the industry by localising seafood production and optimising logistics. The Chile salmon industry should get ahead of the game like Norwegians. So far, Chile is in disbelief and the bad news will bite them at the end,” he added.

“Lastly, pay attention to what the green ESG movement is doing to oil and gas. The same wave will come after cage farmers, watch! We are witnessing that already in British Columbia. It’s just a beginning. The Chilean cage-farmers are the same as the oilfield patch, are in disbelief, and don’t want to face a new reality. Land-based seafood will be dominating the market years to come and Norwegians have secured their interest in most RAS projects worldwide. What everyone forgets is ESG Regulatory Risk. No investment banker is factoring that as of now. It will come,” concluded Cohen.