Norwegian Fish Farming: Status and Future Challenges

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1 Norwegian Fish Farming: Status and Future Challenges Helge R. REINERTSEN Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7055 Dragvoll, Norway Abstract Salmon and trout farming in Norway is based on cage technology, which will be further developed in the coming years to improve fish quality, reduce production costs and minimize environmental impact. Halibut is expected to be the first coldwater marine fish species in commercial production, but the technology for fry production and the ongrowing phase needs to be further improved. The long-term challenge will be to meet the high demand for fish in the future. The production of freshwater species can be improved, but the freshwater resources are limited and the major increase in fish production will have to take place in brackish- and seawater. Most of the present candidates for seawater production are carnivorous species. Aquaculture currently uses 15% of the available amount of fish meal in the world, so a huge increase in fish production consider e new'feed resources as well as marine production of herbivorous species. We need to establish a biological and technological basis for: \ systematic increases in the production of natural systems, eventually in combination with sea ranching. systematic production of improved macroalgae and other organisms which can be used as feed or constitute a major component of the feed for cage-farmed herbivorous and carnivorous fish species improved by selective breeding. 1 Introduction The salmon farming which was initiated by the Norwegian pioneers in the 1960s was stated by the so-called experts to be a failure. Today we realise that the inhabitants of the cost of Norway, fishermen, sailors and even teachers, managed to established the technological and biological basis for a successful global industry, which had a production value of about 2 billion dollars in The main components of the success were very simple cages made of available materials such as wood, isopor and nets produced for capturing wild fish in the sea. A regular supply of fresh or forzen fish, fed to the salmon as whole fish or as the main component of moist pellets, was another important factor for successful ongrowing of salmon. The knowledge needed for smolt production was already well developed in Norway. Over a period of about 60 years hundreds of thousands of juvenile salmon had been released into the Norwegian rivers to improve salmon catches. Today, Norway has 240 smolt plants which in 1995 produced 98 mill smolts for salmon farming. At a weight of gram the smolts are transferred to sea-farms (720 ongrowing farms in 1994), and reach a market size within one to two years. For fifteen years ago the annual salmon production was nearly 4,000 tons. During the past ten years the production has increased from 29,000 to 250,000 tons

2 H. R. Reinertsen (1996) (Fig. 1), and in 1994 Norway produced almost 55% of the total world farmed Atlantic salmon. Fig. 1. Salmon production (tons year-1) Sea-cage technology is also used for trout farming, and trout production reached 13,500 tons in 1994, with a first-hand value of 62 million dollars. 2 Salmon farming technology During the early years of salmon farming, cages with a floating collar of wood and isopor or a ring of polyethylene were most common, very often joined to land by a gangway. In the 1980s farming concepts made of steel became fairly usual. It turned out that some of the concepts could not withstand heavy weather. Especially from the last half of the 80s, there have been a trend towards move farms to more exposed areas to improve growth conditions and to reduce the environmental impact of farming. The volume of the individual cages also increased considerably, from a mean of m3 with 5-10 metre deep nets in the early 80s, to 2,000-10,000 m3 or even 20,000 m3, with net depths of metres, today. This increase in cage size and the selection of more exposed localities have challenged the cage and net producers. Also mooring systems had to be improved to avoid damage of the constructions during stormy weather. Currently polyethylene cages are preferred at exposed sites, and Polarcircle polyethylene cages are documented to tolerate mean wave heights of about 5 metres. The cost per m3 of farming volume in large cages is estimated to approximately 5 US$/m3, including cages, nets and mooring systems. Some farmers prefer more compact steel farms at even relatively exposed localities. Investment costs come to about 47 US$/m3 for a complete farm, including buildings for fish feed storage, feeding systems, etc. The most highly developed feeding systems transport the feed from storage tanks to the individual cages through pipes by air pressure, at speeds of m/sek at distances of up to 900 metre. The feeding capacity is 1-5 tons/ hour. A very small proportion of the salmon production, about 2,000 tons, is produced in CLOSED PRO- DUCTION UNITS, mainly landbased farms. The first modern landbased salmon farm was established in 1988, and today five landbased and one floating seabased farm are in operation. The capital cost of landbased farms is close to 380 US$/m3, and the production cost per kilo salmon has been shown to be US $ higher than in cage farms. This is due to the relatively high capital costs and energy and oxygen costs of US$/kg produced fish, assuming a 70-80% oxygenation efficiency. The fish density in the landbased farms is about 80 kg/m3. The investment costs of closed floating units are currently about 160 US$ /m3, and the cost of energy and oxygen demand for production of one kilo fish is estimated to be 0.2 US$/kilo. The fish density in closed floating cages is about 50 kg/m3. The profitability of closed production units is dependent on improved survival and growth rates and reduced feed costs compared to cage concepts. During the winter inflow of relatively warm deep water have been shown to increase the growth, and inflow of deep water also reduce the sealice problems which currently cause farmers great annual losses. 3 Marine fish farming Since the early 1980s the Norwegian government has given high priority to the development of gnew h fish species for commercial production. However, the number of marine fry produced in Norway is still very small (Fig. 2), mainly because the demand for fry from

3 Norwegian fish farming: Status and future challenges the industry has been low due to insufficient profitability. The turbot fry are exported to Norwegian owned farms in Spain, whereas the cod fry are mostly produced for sea-ranching experiments. with relatively low investment costs become available, the halibut production can increase relatively rapidly, given that sufficient fry available. 4 Challenges for the future The short-term aims for the development of Norwegian aquaculture are to maintain our position as the leading salmon producer and to bring gnew h species into commercial production. As far as salmon farming is concerned, the most important technological challenges will still be related to fish quality, production costs, environmental impact and also ethical considerations. This implies that no great changes will take place in the strategy for the development of salmon farming technology. The focus will be on: * cage structures and concepts; further development of sites, cages and concepts for farming on exposed Halibut has been given top priority by the Norwegian Research Council due to the relatively high market potential. But we will probably not reach an annual production of a million fry in this decade. The production so far is based on extensive systems, and increased production will require large-scale intensive systems such as developed for species as sea bream and turbot. Ongrowing of cod in cages was developed in the late 80s and reached a production of 1, 000 tons in 1989, but is now nearly negligible. In 1995 the halibut production reached 100 tons, mainly produced in a landbased farm owned by Stolt Sea Farm, which is now the only large company into marine fish production in Norway. A special concept has been developed for landbased flatfish farming, with an investment cost of 3,000 NOK/m2. The farming density is about 60 kg/m2. The concept has been improved by the company Halitech. By several shelfs in the flatfish tanks the investment costs can be reduced by 100%. The extra shelfs can be removed for farming of other marine, and the concept represents a new generation of landbased farms with relatively low investment costs. New types of cages for flatfish farming are being tested in ongrowing experiments. As soon as systems * Adaptation of technology to regional climatical conditions; i. e. introduction of tension-leg cages, submersible cages and closed floating cages * Introduction of integrated farming concepts; i. e. combinations of closed, floating units and large cages * Feeding and management technology The focus on halibut as the next candidate for commercial production will continue, but we will probably get a diversified production of marine fish. Methods for intensive fry production and ongrowing of marine fish, including cage concepts for flatfishes, will have to be improved. The greatest potential for cage farming of marine fish is related to the application of salmon farming technology for storing and feeding wild-caught fish, in order to regulate the market supply and thus raise prices. Technology for transporting live fish is an integral part of this concept. The greatest challenges concern the long-term development of both Norwegian aquaculture and world aquaculture. We know that the future will bring: *an increased demand for fish, especially for low-cost products * very limited resources of protein and oil of marine origin

4 H. R. Reinertsen (1996) * limited resources of cereals * demand for sustainable development *use of genetically modified organisms? In order to be able to feed future generations with the same amount of fish per capita as today, the gap between catches and the needs, estimated to 37.5 million tons in 20101, will have to be filled by aquaculture production. The production of freshwater species can be improved in the future, but on global basis freshwater resources are limited and most of the increase in fish production will have to take place in brackish and seawater. Marine fish currently constitute 3, 7%2) of the world fish production. Most candidates for future production are carnivore species, and even today aquaculture uses 15% of the fish meal available in the world market3).so if we intend to produce millions of tons of fish in seawater, we will have to look out for enew' feed resources. We will also have to bring herbivorous seawater species into production. In freshwater, the addition of nutrients to increase primary production is a basis for fish production. Also in the sea the supply of nutrients is the basis of all marine production. gfertilization h takes place when nutrient-rich deep water mixes with surface water, creating the basis of algal production. The largest fisheries on earth take place in upwelling ocean regions with nearly continuous upwellings of nutrientrich deep water. The upwelling areas make up about 0.1%4) of the total sea surface area (Fig. 3). The algal production in these areas is about six times as high as in the in open sea and three times as high as in typical coastal area (Fig. 4). However, the fish production is about 70,000 and 100 times higher in upwelling and Fig. 4. Primary- and fish production in different sea areas (Mtons C/year) coastal areas, respectively, then in most of the sea areas4). This indicates extremely efficient food webs in regions with a high nutrient supply. In fact, about 50% of the world's fish production takes place in the upwelling areas which constitute 0.1% of the sea surface (Fig. 4). Under 90% of the sea surface virtually no fish are caught at all, and these areas can really be characterized as deserts. We also know that we have huge biomasses of macroalgae in the sea, and an important question is whether we can select or genetically improve this material to obtain a source of protein for fish farming, eventually by applying fermentation techniques. The future increase in the fish production will have to be based to a great extent upon production of gnew feeds h or feed components produced in the sea. Such new feed sources can be based on systematic cultivation of natural systems, plants and animals that can be used as feed for cage cultures of herbivores and carnivorous fish. The conclusion is that we need a biological and tech-

5 Norwegian fish farming: Status and future challenges nological basis: -to increase fish production in natural systems by increasing the nutrient supply and/or food web manipulations, eventually in combination with sea ranching -for a large-scale production of improved macroalgae and other organisms which can be used as feed or constitute a major component of the feed for cage-farmed herbivorous and carnivorous fish species which have been improved by selective breeding The development of new concepts for aquaculture farming will be based upon fundamental biological and technological knowledge. The overall goal is to create a process of sustainable development which will provide permanent availability of the earth's resources for all generations to come. The challenges for the future have a global character. We must hope and trust that we can establish world-wide cooperation that will be capable of solving the many great challenges that will face life on earth. References 1) New, M.B. (1989): Turn of the millennium aquaculture. World Aquaculture, 22(3), ) FAQ (1994): Aquaculture production Revision 6. FIDI/C815. 3) New, M. B. (1996): The use of marine resources in aquafeed. in Reinertsen, H. and H. Haaland (eds). g Sustainable fish farming h(ed. by H. Reinertsen, and H. Haaland) A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam. (In press). 4) Lalli, C. M. and T. R. Parsons (1993): Biological Oceanography. Pergamon.

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