Cermaq and Folla Alger test the combined farming of salmon and kelp

This is the world's first sea site built for the combined production of both salmon and kelp, which will be grown inside the farm.
Stocking of kelp at the combined Cermaq and Folla Alger marine site in Steigen. Photo: Folla Alger PM.
Stocking of kelp at the combined Cermaq and Folla Alger marine site in Steigen. Photo: Folla Alger PM.

Cermaq and Folla Alger have teamed up to test a new marine site that will combine salmon and kelp production on the same farm. The site is designed as a traditional salmon farming facility with 24 cages, but with special solutions to grow kelp in the middle cages and salmon in the outermost cages on each side. In other words, the kelp will be grown within the farm itself. Located in Steigen in Nordland, Norway, Folla Alger already stocked the first algae at the new combined kelp site last week. In addition to Cermaq and Folla Alger, SINTEF Ocean is also joining the project, producing the first delivery of kelp for the offshore population.

Contributing to the green shift

"This is a very exciting project for us, where we can both utilize nutrients from the net pens as a resource, and we can obtain more alternative feed raw materials", said Cermaq's Production Director in Nordland, Truls Hansen. "It is good circular economy", he continued. "In addition, the project contributes to increased local value creation and business development, which is very positive for everyone who lives and works here".

Tarald Sivertsen, Chairman of Folla Alger, highlighted the sustainable part of this combined farming of salmon and kelp project. "Fish farming and kelp farming are both industries for the future, and will be important contributors to the green shift", he stated.

Silje Forbord, Research Manager in SINTEF Ocean goes further in the explanation. "Combined operation can provide good area utilization by producing several species within the same area", he said. "This area is already set aside for salmon, and by growing kelp on the same site in addition, we hope to be able to contribute to increasing value creation. This set-up allows us to use the nutrients released by the salmon in a sensible way by producing kelp, which can in turn be used as a raw material in new feed".

"We know that we can get up to 50% better kelp growth by cultivating it together with farmed fish", Forbord continued. "Now we will also look at whether there are more advantages to combined operation". Precisely, SINTEF recently concluded a research project that calculates the climate footprint of the salmon farming industry throughout its entire life cycle.

Positive effects of kelp on salmon

Some of the nutrients released by salmon net pens are water-soluble. These nutrients will fertilize the kelp and lead to increased carbon sequestration as the kelp grows. Just like trees and plants on land, with the help of photosynthesis, kelp use sunlight to grow and bind carbon from the sea.

"By cultivating the kelp together with fish, the kelp gets better access to nutrition, also in seasons when there are naturally less nutrient salts in the sea in general", Silje Forbord explained.

As said, this joint project of Cermaq, Folla Alger, and SINTEF Ocean will analyze how salmon farming and kelp can benefit each other. The project will also study how kelp production affects the aquatic environment in net pens and what effect the combined production has on the health of the fish in the cages.

Folla Alger has received research and development licenses from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries to carry out the project. However,  SINTEF Ocean will be responsible for the research in close collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Nord University.

About Cermaq Norway, Folla Alger & SINTEF Ocean

Cermaq Norway is one of Norway's largest food producers supplying salmon to more than 30 countries worldwide. With approximately 500 employees, all of its production takes place north of the Arctic Circle. The company has 4 freshwater facilities and a total of 43 marine facilities along the coast of Nordland and Finnmark, plus 2 slaughterhouses, one in Hammerfest and one in Steigen. They also have an observation center, the Arctic Salmon Center, located at Skutvik in Hamarøy. Cermaq Norway is part of the Cermaq Group, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation.

Founded in 2014, Folla Alger is currently owned by five local owners. The company has 3 kelp farming sites in Nordfoldfjord with a total annual production capacity of 7500 tons of kelp (wet weight), as well as a salmon farming site (IMTA Nordfoldleira). Its objective is to develop profitable and sustainable industrial kelp cultivation and production, and the utilization of the raw material for, among other things, fish feed. Folla Alger aims to become a leading player in the integrated cultivation of kelp with salmon and thus contribute both to the development of the kelp industry and more sustainable salmon production.

SINTEF Ocean conducts research and innovation related to ocean space for national and international industries. Transport, food, and energy production represent the backbone of ocean-based industries and are also core areas for SINTEF Ocean. In addition, it focuses on environmental technology, with one of the world's leading professional environments in marine environmental technology. Through cooperation in the SINTEF group, it integrates its expertise with expert technological knowledge from other industry sectors.

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