Taking into account animal welfare.
Andfjord Salmon will carry out major blasts and construction work near its first pool before fish are released. SalmonBusiness visited the land-based facility at Kvalnes on Andøya, Northern Norway, and caught a glimpse into the huge pool that is ready. The salmon will be placed in the pool sometime next year.
“Before Christmas, we saw that we couldn’t smolt out in the autumn, and had to push it to 2022. With that decision, it is appropriate to take down the entire area now with the blasting and digging it will bring,” said CEO Martin Rasmussen.
“This is how we prepare to take down pool pits. We have now spent six months on this, and we are thrilled to have done so,” he said.
“One reason is the consideration of animal welfare. Now we are also looking at the possibility of taking down the first new basins near the finished, so as not to have reactions as a result of the construction of the first fish that are put out. This is a type of stress we do not want to inflict on the fish,” said Martin Rasmussen.
“This allows us to have a continuous operation in the first pool when we started up. The plan is to have an intermediate phase where we take down six to seven pools. After that, the upcoming basins will be so far away that construction should have no impact on the fish,” he said.
SalmonBusiness’ guide at Kvalnes is the young operator Petter Kristiansen from Øksnes. Winds of about seven seconds blow from the east as we stand at the edge of the pool. The wind speed is often referred to as eye-catching.
Water via the outlet pipes passes via this concrete structure.
When you move your head gently over the edge of the pool, you understand how gigantic the facility actually is. It is 20m down to the bottom and can hold 30,000m3 of water. Kristiansen says that the average level of the water will be 17.5 meters. It follows the tide and spring.
In the building, electrical and automation are being completed. We’re try to enter a closed-door for a private tour. Here we are met by a very determined but polite team leader who tells us that the door should not be used and he does not want anyone through this corridor.
When the guide convincingly explains that he works at the company, and is going to give the world press a little tour, then we are easily let by. Thus, operator Petter can proudly show off his permanent workplace when it becomes ready to move in.
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The CEO is not so keen to compare his own cost level with other planned land-based fish farms.
“We focus on what we have, which are two types of water that don’t need any manipulation. They have to everywhere else in the world that doesn’t have nature-given advantages. We focus on a naturally good location in the salmon kingdom, then we have developed a very good method primarily to spread the water in a large pool. That’s where the genius of our concept lies, that we can disperse the water without spending a lot of energy on it,” he said.
A sea cage on land
In a flow-through facility with a square pool, control of the particles going from one side to the other in the pool without causing turbulence, he said.
“What we achieve with a square pool is one hundred per-cent control of water in and water out. We get sedimentation of the organic material in the basin instead of it being cleaned after it is released. Actually, it is the on-land basin,” said Martin Rasmussen.
Disease and risk
“Our concept is based on the slogan the best of both worlds. Many in our organization have extensive experience from traditional farming. What are and have been the challenges there, and how can we solve them. Such as lice problems and illness in a single way,” said Rasmussen.
“This has formed the basis for the choices we have made at the conceptual level. When it comes to lice and algae, it is our solution to retrieve the water below the level where lice and algae are found,” he added.
Andfjord Salmon will be able to bring the water down to 160m if necessary. At the first pool, pipes have been laid only down to just over 30m.
“The investment for a new pipeline also on the first basin will be taken in the next phase. Now we have built primarily to prove the concept of the first pool. That is why we are also a little conservative in timing the postponement of smolt, among other things,” said Martin Rasmussen.
Experience from “Viking Sky”
In the barracks rig at the height above the construction site we find technical manager Kenneth Jørgensen. In the future, he will mainly coordinate the latest works on the pool and the main building.
“The main part I work with is the automation. We’re a small organization, so we’re involved in most of what’s going on. Although I am the technical manager, there is also a lot about assisting and assisting the construction managers at the plant,” said Kenneth Jørgensen.
He himself has a maritime background, and comes straight from the shipping company Østensjø. His last assignment with Østensjø was to tow “Viking Sky” cruise ship, which suffered an engine failure off the coast of Norway in 2019.
Trouble in the tube
There have been some, but small challenges during construction. A case of COVID that did not cause delay. The pipe supplier ØPD went bankrupt in February, but the company managed to keep its momentum going. The operating building is reasonably clear, but some electrical and automation again.
Some time ago, a situation with the inlet pipe arose. A temporary fuse has caused slight damage to the outermost part of the first section that was laid this winter. They will have to wait for new material to repair.
“In the past, we have estimated that it will take about eight to ten weeks until it is finished,” said Rasmussen.
“The individual contractor has experience exactly with the job they do and knows it. It’s the total package here that no one has ever done before. So, the holistic part is advanced, and no one has done it before. So there are always things that need to be solved, but no single thing that is too difficult to solve along the way,” said Jørgensen.
Petter Kristiansen started as an operator in Andfjord Salmon in August last year. When the facility is in operation, his usual work becomes in the control room. He comes from a job in Nordlaks.
“It’s great to be working on a brand new project. Here you really get to feel like you’re contributing something. What you say matters and people take you seriously and everyone is working towards the same goal,” said the operator.
“I’m only just over 20 years old and I feel I have an impact on what we’re doing.
If there is something within my field, I am asked, and what I say is taken seriously,” said a very satisfied Kristiansen.
“If anyone needs help with something at the construction site, I’ll step in,” he said.
In the finished control room, Kristiansen believes that there will be different experiences than what he has had at previous facilities.
“We get better-controlled conditions. When I was feeding on sea facilities, there could be so much storm that we didn’t really know where the feed went. Here everything falls at the bottom, so we get very good control”.
“What I’m most excited about is the day we get the fish in the pool and see how it stands and adapts,” said Petter Kristiansen.
Strength strong layer
The last addition to the organisation is CFO Bjarne Martinsen, who started in the new year. They are now announcing a position as project director.
“We are looking to strengthen our team as activities increase in the future,” he said.
“The team we have created is very unique. If I were to highlight something that is most important for Andfjord Salmon, it is the weight the team has. Operators who have been on salmon cage farming since the eighties. Christine Thomassen, director of fish health, has 30 years of experience in biology. The professional people we have are so strong,” said Martin Rasmussen.