Icelandic land-based salmon farmers unaffected by volcanic activity

Land-based salmon farming projects GeoSalmo, First Water, Thor Landeldi and Samherji are outside the volcanic danger zone.
Iceland has declared a state of emergency and has evacuated the Grindavík population due to likely Fagradasfjall volcanic eruption. Pictured: Fagradsfjall volcano.
Iceland has declared a state of emergency and has evacuated the Grindavík population due to likely Fagradasfjall volcanic eruption. Pictured: Fagradsfjall volcano. Photo: Mateusz Nowak / Adobe Stock.

It's a tense time for communities in south-west Iceland, as the country declares a state of emergency due to volcanic activity by the Fagradasfjall volcano in the Reykjanes Peninsula.

With access to plenty of water and abundant geothermal energy, as well as within easy reach of the port towns of Grindavík and Þorlákshöfn, and around an hour's drive from Iceland's capital city Reykjavik, south-west Iceland has proven an attractive location for land-based fish farming projects.

Located close to Grindavík, Arctic char farmer Matorka has been affected by earthquakes on Friday.

However, land-based salmon farming companies further afield in the region are not in danger.

GeoSalmo "unaffected" by volcano, outside of danger zone

Land-based salmon farming company GeoSalmo confirmed to WeAreAquaculture today (16 November) that they are unaffected by the volcanic activity, but that their thoughts are with the local people caught up in the crisis.

GeoSalmo is preparing to build a 24,000 tonne hybrid flow-through land-based farm in Þorlákshöfn in the Ölfus district, and thus outside of the danger zone, at a distance of approximately 60 kilometres east from Grindavík.

"The geological event unfolding in the Reykjanes peninsula (in particular Grindavík) is affecting all Icelanders in a way. Our main thoughts at this point are about the safety, security and mental wellbeing of the people living in this area," said GeoSalmo's Johannes Gislason, in a written reply to WeAreAquaculture.

"Thankfully, Iceland has very capable geologists, civil protection authorities and first responders that know full well how to deal with this kind of a situation. Therefore, Icelanders in general are confident that this event will not result in loss of life, but the possible property and emotional damage cannot be understated."

"As to the question how this event is affecting GeoSalmo, then it is not affecting us in a direct way other than as described above. GeoSalmo´s main salmon grow out facility will be in the town of Þorlákshöfn, which is in an area that is not volcanically active," Gislason said.

First Water (formerly Thor Landeldi) and Samherji

Other land-based salmon farming projects in the region include First Water (formerly Landeldi), Thor Landeldi and Samherji.

First Water is located in Þorlákshöfn, outside of the affected area. The company plans to develop a land-based farm with an initial production volume of 8,000 tonnes, with the aim of ramping up to 50,000 tonnes by 2028.

Thor Landeldi (unrelated to First Water) is also developing a 20,000-metric-ton Atlantic salmon farm near Þorlákshöfn, and recently received significant investment from the recently-formed Icelandic investment fund, which bought a 53% stake in the company.

Meanwhile, long-established Icelandic seafood company Samherji has plans for a land-based salmon farm in Reykjanes, at a site approximately 16 kilometres by road to the west of Grindavík. The company plans to build a 40,000-tonne land-based salmon facility next to the Reykjanes Power Plant in the south-western tip of Iceland.

Coastal town Grindavík evacuated

Dormant for 800 years until 2021, the Fagradasfjall volcano has erupted three times in as many years, with the most recent volcanic activity in July 2023.

This is the first time the volcano has affected a populated area, however, with 3,500 residents of coastal town Grindavík evacuated following hundreds of earthquakes over the weekend. A full volcanic eruption has not been ruled out by authorities.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated on 21 November. Thor Landeldi and First Water (formerly called Landeldi) are two separate companies, although both are located in Þorlákshöfn, Iceland. In addition, GeoSalmo's projected annual production is 24,000 tonnes, not 20,000 as originally stated.

Related Stories

No stories found.