Samherji plans 40,000-tonne land-based salmon farm in Iceland

The Icelandic company intends to build one of the world's largest salmon farms alongside Reykjanes Geothermal Power Plant.
Samherji headquaters
Samherji headquaters

Samherji has made a step forward in its plans to construct one of the world's largest salmon farming operations in the Reykjanes Peninsula in the south-west of Iceland.

The company recently submitted an environmental report to the Reykjanes municipality, where it plans to build a 40,000-tonne land-based salmon facility next to the Reykjanes Geothermal Power Plant, operated by HS Orka.

At a community meeting, Samherji explained its projected construction, including a hatchery, rearing centre and processing facilities. The company said the project would create 100 permanent jobs and bring billions of kroner to the local economy.

Currently Samherji has one land-based farm, located at Öxarfjörður, a remote fjord in the north-east of Iceland, producing around 1200 tonnes of salmon per year. The proposed facility in Reykjanes will be orders of magnitude larger, intended to produce 40,000 tonnes of salmon once fully operational.

Samherji says it plans to begin work at the site towards the end of summer 2023, with subsequent construction phases to start in 2027 and 2030.

Focus on land-based aquaculture

The company had announced last year it was gearing up for expansion into land-based farming, appointing former Mowi CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog to its board of directors, and embarking on significant investment in aquaculture projects.

In January of this year Samherji also sold Alda Seafood, its European and North American overseas operations, in a move interpreted by many as a way of concentrating the company's focus on its Icelandic business, including its new land-based strategy. Alda Seafood was acquired by a Dutch company run by Baldvin Thorsteinsson, son of Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson.

In a statement last year, Baldvinsson said "We at Samherji have a lot of faith in land farms, but their construction is hugely expensive. That is why it is of the utmost importance that the company is as financially strong as ever. Our consolidated financial statements shows that this is the case."

The new project will see Samherji enter the list of the world's largest salmon farming operations, and produce around double the volume of fish projected by fellow Icelandic salmon farming project Geosalmo.

Samherji has been rocked in recent times by allegations of corruption in the so-called "Fish Rot" scandal involving its overseas business dealings in Namibian fisheries – allegations which the company and its directors vehemently deny.

Questions have also been raised over Samherji's tax affairs, with an investigation undertaken by Icelandic authorities into alleged money laundering and tax evasion. However, criminal proceedings were dropped in January 2023, with the company reaching a settlement worth ISK 230 million ($1.6 million / €1.5 million) with the Directorate of Tax Investigations in Iceland.

About Samherji

Samherji hf. is a fishing and fish processing company in Iceland. It is the largest fishing company in Iceland, and one of the largest in Europe. It was founded in Grindavík in 1972. Its current headquarters are in Akureyri, but the company operates in many locations in Iceland and throughout the world.

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