Norwegian Company SalMar Intends to Build a Revolutionary New Offshore Salmon Farm

Seafood offers one of the healthiest forms of protein, with most options being low in fat and high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. We are in definite need of optimal seafood sources to feed our growing population. Fish and shellfish are the last commercially-harvest wild animals – we’ve simply domesticated everything else. There has been a huge increase in the demand for farmed seafood over the last several decades, but aquaculture has presented a grab-bag of unique challenges.

farmed salmon
The Norwegion company SalMar intends to build a new offshore farm that may revolutionize the way we farm salmon.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Natalie Maynor

Salmon are by far and large one of our favorite seafood items; taste, texture, and health benefits come to a beautiful agreement within a salmon fillet, and seafood lovers have an insatiable appetite for it. Our demand for salmon has been the foundation for a massive growth in the farmed salmon business. Even more than other species, salmon are singularly difficult to farm and the aquaculture industry has a long way to go before it can produce salmon fillets that meet the green list requirements. SalMar, one of the largest salmon farming companies in the world, is bound and determined to overcome these challenges and rise to the top as a leader in exciting and innovative ways to improve farmed salmon.

The challenges of farming salmon

Disease, lice, escapees, overcrowding – these are words we associate with farmed salmon. Farms tend to be open coastal nets, allowing waste to easily enter and pollute the environment, escaped fish to breed with local populations, and disease to spread rampantly among the overcrowded nets unless awful amounts of antibiotics are used. We feed them massive amounts of fishmeal (a 3:1 ratio!) just to produce a marketable fillet that has to be dyed pink to imitate the wild version.

SalMar intends to change all of this through a risky and expensive investment into a new way of farming salmon. They plan to build an offshore platform, similar to an oil rig, which will house a revolutionary type of salmon farm.

This massive offshore farm will weigh 5,600 metric tons, stand 220 feet tall, and will be equipped with the same netting used to repel sharks. It will be based off oil rig designs, able to withstand 30 foot waves without allowing any fish to escape. Increased water flow from open ocean currents will work to prevent disease and allow greater densities of salmon. Since the farm will be far from shore, there will be less chance that local fish could suffer from the waste produced by the farmed fish. Artificially bred fish will eat lice right off of the farmed salmon. These factors combined mean that – if successful – the new offshore farm would be able to house 1.6 million fish, seven times as much as a conventional salmon farm net.

salmon farming
The demand for sustainable sources of salmon is on the rise and now is the perfect time to push towards better farming methods.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Tom Ipri

A new age for salmon aquaculture

This design is still entirely experimental and will be very expensive. But the promise of increasing the production of Norwegian’s salmon farming industry will likely be unable to resist. With the current high demand for salmon, it would be a smart decision to invest in more innovative ways to farm the anadromous species.

Right now is the perfect time to experiment with improved aquaculture techniques, especially with salmon. The popularity of these delectable fishes is undeniable and the demand for them will only continue to increase. We cannot put all the pressure on wild populations and there are so many problems with the current salmon-farming situation. If we even have a chance to create a better salmon farm that doesn’t pollute the environment or harm local fish populations while producing a healthy product – it is worth it.

Although this “oil-rig” design is experimental, it has a tremendous potential to initiate the new age of salmon aquaculture. Once the design is proven to be stable, clean, and profitable, other salmon farming companies will immediately jump on the technology. There is serious competition within this industry to provide the most desirable products and right now there is an increasing number of people who demand eco-friendly, safe, and healthy seafood products. Consumers are taking notice of the source of seafood items, and a farm that can produce a farmed salmon fillet that has minimal impact on the environment will sell faster than other options. Not to mention that if this farm succeeds, it will be able to produce seven times as many salmon as the traditional farm, which will likely enable them to lower the cost of their products. Not only will they be more sustainable, but also more affordable!

“Open Range” salmon

There will likely be concerns over whether we’re turning the aquaculture industry into a massive farming operation similar to the way we produce some cows and chickens, where countless creatures are all shoved into one space, and fed antibiotics and growth hormones. In reality, this new platform has the opposite intention. Its final intention would be like taking those cows and chickens out of the giant warehouses and putting them in wide open pastures to be “grass-fed” or “open range”. These farmed salmon will still need plenty of added food, but the open ocean will provide a tremendous increase in water flow in the form of currents as opposed to coastal areas. Where salmon are concerned, the more water flow the better! Disease cannot travel nearly as well, since the waster matter will be swept away quickly and efficiently. The salmon will likely even get a large amount of food from the surrounding ocean (depending on the design of the farms nets), which will decrease some of the demand for added fishmeal and fish oil.

Salmon farmed in these better conditions will probably be healthier, bigger, and stronger, translating into a more healthy product for consumers. The seafood industry and seafood consumers must embrace new technology to improve aquaculture if we hope to continue to feed our growing population. One company stepping forward to take the risk will benefit all the rest of us in the long run and it’s important that we help support such efforts. Choose your eco-friendly seafood options from the Pucci Foods Catalog today!

6 Replies to “Norwegian Company SalMar Intends to Build a Revolutionary New Offshore Salmon Farm”

  1. Jamseon

    I can see this method revolutionizing the Salmon farming industry around the world. Because salmon is becoming increasingly popular due its wide spread health benefits as well as its delicious taste and texture, the price will only continue to rise as it becomes more scarce.

    By investing in opportunities like these, we can preserve the natural and wild salmon populations while still growing a food supply that is just as delicious, but also far more sustainable. I feel that the companies that adopt these new technologies and methods are going to be far more successful in the long run, as they’ll iron out the kinks and get the operation sailing smoothly. Those who don’t adopt to the changing needs of the world are going to be left behind.

    I look forward to seeing how this new operation turns out – it is certainly a great solution to a problem that has vexed many for years.

    • Rietta

      Hi Jameson! I’m really looking forward to the results as well. It could solve so many of the issues that plague the salmon farming industry and provide an excellent sustainable and healthy product for consumers. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hollie Baker

    I think this is a great innovative idea! I personally love Salmon growing up in the Northwest its almost a given. I think that today we need to move towards sustainable, healthy food. Salmon is a great alternative that is heart healthy and delicious. This farming system could very well help solve the over fishing of salmon and spawning rates. I am all for it. I am sure some will be against it for a mass assortment of reasons mainly that it will disrupt other ocean life. I however think if anything this will make a great solution to a bigger problem and that is a source for healthy food and massive quantities of it to sustain ad ensure our health and appetites. 😉

    • Rietta

      Hi Hollie, thank you for you enthusiasm! This farm could really be a turning point for the salmon farming industry and a success that all salmon lovers can celebrate!

  3. pascal

    This idea has certainly piqued my interest. It sounds like a massive undertaking, however. How much “free range” would the salman have? Cordoning off a sizeable bit of ocean with shark net would be very expensive I’m sure. I like the idea though. The fish would be healthier and less likely to spread diseases to wild populations. We simply can’t maintain our level of consumption at current rates. We will wipe out the wild population. The article states that if successful, this new farm model could produce seven times more fish than established farms. That could save the species from going extinct by means of the insatiable maw of humanity.

    • Rietta

      Hi pascal – great question! The dimensions given for the offshore farm were 67 meters in height with a diameter of 111 meters. That’s a fairly large area; the main purpose behind the platform is increasing water flow for the salmon, which is much healthier for them than the relatively still waters of coastal aquaculture farms. Not only can they minimize their environmental impact, but the salmon would be overall be healthier.

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