Could this be the fish farm of the future?
In what would seem quite an eye-opening idea, Marine Harvest has floated the proposal of carrying out their salmon farming inside a cargo ship, report Bloomberg.
Norway’s' tight regulations, which are aimed at preventing lice and the use of unwanted chemical treatments associated with the parasite, have meant permission to build farms at sea has become extremely difficult – nigh on impossible due to regulations from the Food Safety Act and protections against pollution, which include low levels of sea lice infestation. As a result of this, Marine Harvest is one of a number of companies to submit new ideas to the Norwegian government aimed at stopping the sea lice problem and preventing diseased salmon escaping into the sea.
With current regulation making new open water farm licences difficult to obtain, new proposals are being discussed.
Among various forms of closed-containment farms submitted by Marine Harvest and others were on land containment facilities and submerging caged farms at greater depths in the ocean.
The Norwegian government are heavily incentivising producers who can meet their tight environmental standards; this includes a reduction of 50 million krone (around $7.5 million) for licences (a conventional licence currently in use costs 60 million krone, whilst licences that meet these new standards would cost 10 million krone) for ‘winning’ proposals – such as the cargo ships – that they have deemed as feasible. This could perhaps offset the cost of developing the new technology.
Alf-Helge Aarskog, chief executive officer of Marine Harvest said of the new proposals “It’s more or less kick-starting fish farming again in a new way.”
The cargo ship proposal looks, perhaps, to be the most viable idea submitted by Marine Harvest. This is due in no small part to financial and timing factors. It is estimated that it would take around six months to convert a second-hand cargo ship to their standards – including six holding tanks. The cost, meanwhile, would total around $10 – 12 million; $7 million for a ship, and anywhere between $2.5 and $5 million for the subsequent farming conversion. Once factoring in the cost of a (reduced) government farming licence this works out to be a financially effective idea.