Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Fish Farming Considers the Environment with Battery Powered Support

Cod will Hopefully Avoid the Pitfalls of Salmon Cultivation
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – The business of fish farming is a controversial subject. While the method offers hope for the future in terms of species sustainability, there has been heavy criticism of methods used, with disease and pollution topping the list of complaints.

In Scandinavia, as in Scotland where much of the production is actually in Norwegian hands, salmon have been the principal species, with accusations of escapes damaging the indigenous creatures plus the damage to some English wrasse populations as the fish were caught and shipped north to fight the plague of argulus lice which proliferate in crowded enclosures.

One company which says it is trying to produce fish with minimal impact on the environment while supporting local communities is Norcod AS, whose core business is commercial sea farming of cod but through ownership and partnerships is involved in the entire value chain.

As part of its commitment to sustainable operations, Norcod has agreements in place for a battery-electric service boat. The first unit, for deployment in Mausund, is being built by Kystteknikk Yards in Frøya. Batteries on the 45-foot vessel will be charged overnight, drastically reducing emissions and ensuring quiet daytime operations. ABB Marine is delivering the complete package of electrical solutions for the boat, which is set for delivery in May.

Norcod received its first state-of-the-art hybrid feed barge in December from ScaleAQ, which is already in use at its Jamnungen facility, and has ordered a further two hybrid barges from Akva Group that are scheduled for delivery in May for deployment at its next two sites. Batteries complement the on board generators on the barges, reducing both fuel consumption, emissions and generator maintenance. Norcod CSO Hilde Storhaug says:

“Zero-emission vessels are the future for our industry, good not only for the fish but also our technicians and the local environment, and local value creation underlines our policy to support the communities where we operate.”

Norcod’s environmentally friendly production methods also include no use of antibiotics and feed with high marine content and sustainable ingredients. In terms of production Norcod transferred a new tranche of sixth-generation cod fry from Joint venture partner Havlandet Norcod Yngel to growth facilities Mørkvedbukta and Fishbase in January. Norcod Production Director Rune Eriksen elaborates:

“These are the same growth facilities we used for our first batches of fry last year. They have very good experience with cod. The fry have settled well in the tanks and have a good appetite. The growth phase lasts around five to six months. The juveniles will be transferred to our sea pens in the summer, at which point they will weigh around 80-100 grammes. Harvest volumes from this batch will come in 2022 following a sea phase of around 15 to 18 months.”

Norcod’s first production cycle of cod is now approaching the planned size of 4kg/+. Its pilot batch of 200,000 fish are in the sea at partner Namdal Settefisk’s facility in Finnangerøya in Namsos municipality, with the rest at Norcod’s facility at Jamnungen in Frøya. The pilot batch has been in sea for around 13 months and the main batch for around seven months. Both are performing well, with high feed efficiency, and Eriksen says the fish are calm, well distributed in the pens, and mortality remains negligible with strong biological performance meaning both lower risk and costs.

Photo: One of the cod cages with (inset) an AKVA feed barge.