A picture of one of Bakkafrost's sites off Suðuroy that was included in a four-page presentation which Bakkafrost released in conjunction with the market announcement about the mortality. The site uses a 'ship design' feed barge, converted from a bulk carrier and more capable of withstanding rough conditions than standard feed barges.

Four-day storm wipes out 1 million fish in Faroes

Faroese salmon farmer Bakkafrost has reduced its harvest forecast for 2020 by 5-6,000 tonnes to 51-52,000 tonnes after revealing that around 1 million fish perished during a severe four-day storm from February 28 until March 2.

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The mortality occurred at two sites - A23 Hvalba and A15 Froðba – on South Island (Suðuroy) in the Faroes archipelago.

The storm overstressed some of the farming equipment in A23 Hvalba and damaged the nets in two pens. In A15 Froðba 10 nets were damaged and a continuous ground swell over five days caused significant stock mortality.

The two sites (named in red) damaged during a severe four-day storm. Significant mortality was caused by ground swell at A15. Click on image to enlarge. Graphic: Bakkafrost.

Using site since 2005

The company has been using the A15 site to farm salmon since 2005 without similar problems, it said in a market announcement on Sunday.

At the A23 site the fish in nets with no damage appear to be fine after the storms and going forward equipment can be improved to avoid similar accidents, the company stated.

In total Bakkafrost lost around 1 million fish with an average weight of 2.1 kg.

Although the severity of the storm eased after March 2, the weather conditions in the A15 and A23 areas were not settled before March 5.

Extra 10,000 tonnes

In 2018 Bakkafrost said that investments in new sites in Suðuroy - A17/18 Hovsfjørður and A23 Hvalba – would, together with its strategy of setting out larger smolts, add a further capacity of 10,000 tonnes.

A17/18 had already begun operation at the time, and A23 started operation last year.

At a Capital Markets Day presentation in June last year, Bakkafrost said it estimated it would grow production in the Faroes by 22,000 tonnes to around 76,000 tonnes by 2023. The Suðuroy cluster was expected to harvest 15,000 tonnes in 2023.

Open ocean farming

The company has since bought the Scottish Salmon Company, which it expects will eventually add a further 50,000 tonnes to its harvest total.

It was also recently reported that the company had asked government permission to develop open ocean farming to the east of the island of Nolsoy, in which fish would be grown from 2-3kg up to 6-7kg.

Bakkafrost believes a successful expansion offshore could more than double the Faroes’ salmon production from 90,000 tonnes a year to 200,000 tonnes.