Pilot Project Explores Potential for Deep-Sea Salmon Farm
Ocean Farm 1, the world's first offshore fish farm, near Frohavet, Norway
Farmed salmon is nothing new, but until recently that meant raising the fish in large nets in sheltered waters (called shoreline farming). Now, SalMar ASA is nearing the end of a US$300 million yearlong pilot project to test the viability of the world's first deep-sea aquaculture farm. Three miles (4.8 kilometers) off the coast of Norway, the project team built a 220-foot (67-meter) high mesh-wire framed net that floats in the ocean and is decked out with automated feeding valves. The underwater space is big enough to hold 1.5 million salmon.
Raising the fish farther offshore means more space for more salmon, but it also brings greater risks: that the fish, clustered together more tightly, could spread disease quickly, or that their growth could be curbed because of the lower oxygen found at deeper sea levels. To help mitigate those risks, the project team included oxygen sensors and high-definition cameras throughout the space, to monitor both growth and signs of illness. If the first generation is successfully harvested (later this year), a SalMar executive told Businessweek that the company could roll out similar projects anywhere in the open sea.