Aquaculture, Fishing Gear, Yards & Services, News

The Norwegian advantage – from South America to Southeast Asia

There's a "blue revolution" underway around the world, according to Akvaplan-niva consultant Tor-Jahn Herstad. North, south, east and west, resource developers are turning to Norwegian fishery and fish farming experts in a bid to support species and waterways set to...

In Chile – a salmon-producing powerhouse – the Atlantic and Coho salmon have become strong economic drivers. Fishing gear, aquaculture equipment and R&D from Norway has helped make the difference. Europe, Japan and the United States get their salmon from Chile, and Chile gets cages, boats, mooring systems, vaccines, automated fish farm management and gentle fish handling equipment from free-trade partner Norway. The transatlantic ties to Norway give Chilean fish farms a hard-to-beat advantage of scale.

Just as the export value of farmed Norwegian salmon grew by about one billion kroner in 2005, so too did Chilean salmon producers up production by two percent. In that time, Norway’s exports to Chile of mostly high-end fishery and aquaculture equipment rose to NOK 160 million, making Chile the Nordic country’s second-largest trading partner in South America.

This relationship of two countries with perfect aquaculture coastlines has gotten closer. In 2005 the respective umbrella advocacies, FHL (Norwegian Seafood Federation) Aquaculture and SalmonChile, agreed to facilitate more free trade. It came on the heels of a deal between Chile and Norway via the European Free Trade Association in 2002. The pact outlined how the two great salmon producers would share production information to prevent market damage.

Chilean Marriage

Data exchanged electronically now makes production predictable, setting the scene for an enforcement of standards and more research and development. In this swell of cooperation, Norwegian suppliers flocked to Chile, setting up affiliate Chilean companies in the process. Cflow Fish Handling – which makes pumps, fish/water separators, and live fish chilling systems for fisheries and fish farms – is also Cflow Chile. Ditto for cage maker PolarCirkel Chile Limitada and a host of others originating from Norway and now also boasting Chilean addresses and infrastructure. Some of these companies were scheduled to display their equipment at the Aqua Sur trade show in Puerto Montt, Chile in March 2006 – a show that has a cooperation agreement with the biannual Aqua Nor in Trondheim, Norway.

Chile, like Norway, sends much of its fished and farmed produce to the European Union, a tough market that includes environmental tracing for toxins, minimum selling prices for outsiders and discerning palates. Chile, like Norway, offers sheltered coves and fjords where industrial-scale fish farming installations, like those from western Norway-based firm Marine Construction, can pamper species under husbandry. NS 9415-certified aquaculture systems like those delivered by Nor-Mær help lift barriers in standards-conscious markets. Moreover, hard lessons of weather and disease that have been learned and adapted to in Norway means that Chilean husbandry and fish care is often spared the worst.

Experience servicing some 450 aquaculture sites has produced estimable companies like Arena Aquaculture and its Chilean affiliate, Arena Chile SA. The proof is in first-rate offshore storage, integrated monitoring and feed equipment, along with barges and control systems for hatcheries and grow-outs. Company chairman Ulrik Ulriksen says feeding installations for brood fish are new best sellers in Chile. His words suggest the offspring of such fish, reared under selective breeding protocols written in Norway, will launch the next wave of Chile’s dramatic fisheries expansion.

Norway’s focus on high-tech and industrial scale production is now a Chilean advantage. The key to future production will be innovations like MMC Tendos’ shipboard fish handling and cooling that integrates gentle loading and unloading operations in automated systems.

Success in Europe

As Chileans learn to produce salmon in Norwegian numbers – or up to 600,000-plus tonnes yearly – the 130,000 tonnes of salmonid produced by the EU’s fish farms looks smaller every day. Europe’s strength is in other species, like sea bream and sea bass, the stuff of Mediterranean hatcheries and grow-out pens.

Moreover, the Continent has looked to Norway for salmon and trout, and the 60 percent of Norwegian production that ends up on European plates means getting it to market in good shape. The NOK 11.8 billion worth of fish caught by Norwegian fishermen in 2005 receives the same treatment en-route to land-based processing as its farmed equivalent.

A new generation of well boat for the transfer of farmed fish is being built by Norwegian shipyards with a century or more of experience building fishing boats. Live fish transport means low stress for the cargoes in well boats from Aas Mek. Verkstad. These boats discharge no water, instead oxygenating and disinfecting it. Efficient transfer to shore means Europeans stay hooked on the freshest possible catch.

R&D Dividends

Years of learning and development are behind today’s incredible array of innovations from Norwegian fishing and aquaculture suppliers.

Food and health expertise created PHARMAQ, a Norwegian company developing a vaccine for heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), the hope of fish farmers in India. PHARMAQ uses 50 percent of its R&D budget on medical products distributed by its Puerto Montt, Chile office.

Research agency SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, which helped modernize aquaculture in Vietnam, is adept at facilitating joint government projects. It also boasts a fishing gear laboratory in Denmark which develops and tests catch nets.

In the field of selective breeding, AKVAFORSK is often singled out. Its base in the flat valleys and high peaks of Sunndalsøra, central Norway, is also the site of Norway’s oldest salmon farms. The institute’s protocols for salmonid rearing preceded success with cod, a species on the ascent, and AKVAFORSK has been applauded by the United Nations Development Programme for its selective breeding work on tilapia in Malaysia. This international transfer of breeding technology from Norway has helped shrimp sites in China and India.

New Norwegian science is also permitting the husbandry of new species. In Japan, AquaOptima has fostered recirculation technology to permit the hatching of Takifugu rubripes, or blowfish, a highly toxic species made non-toxic by removing it from its natural coral habitat.