An illustration of how the Smart Fish Farm might look. SalMar Aker Ocean will immediately initiate a project to develop a next-generation semi offshore unit. Image: SalMar.

SalMar joins with Aker to accelerate offshore farming ambition

Ocean Farm 1 owner SalMar today announced a strategic partnership with Norwegian industrial investment heavyweight Aker ASA to establish a global offshore aquaculture company.  

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The new company, SalMar Aker Ocean AS, will operate within offshore fish farming, including offshore and semi-offshore, combining Aker and SalMar’s industry experience and competence in salmon production.

SalMar, which co-owns Scottish Sea Farms, has already grown 10,000 tonnes of salmon over two production cycles in Ocean Farm 1, the world’s first offshore salmon farm, and has previously outlined ambitions to create a lower cost supply chain of offshore farms. It has also been developing the Smart Fish Farm, a larger, more technologically advanced successor to Ocean Farm 1.

Olav Andreas Ervik will lead SalMar Aker Ocean.

Investment decision

It said today that SalMar Aker Ocean will immediately initiate a project to develop a next-generation semi offshore unit, with an aim at reaching an investment decision for a new production unit as soon as possible. 

SalMar Aker Ocean will continue work to streamline and digitalise construction and operation processes and will jointly seek approval for locations and licences offshore, initially within the Norwegian Economic Zone. In the longer term, SalMar Aker Ocean will target growth in international markets.

SalMar and Aker - through its subsidiary Aker Capital AS - will eventually own 66.6% and 33.4% of SalMar Aker Ocean respectively. The company will comprise SalMar’s interests in its semi-offshore and offshore farming operations, and Aker will contribute up to NOK 1.65 billion (£136 million) in cash in three tranches.

The new company’s chief executive will be Olav Andreas Ervik, a former SalMar CEO who is already in charge of the company’s offshore developments.

Ocean Farm 1 being transported to Norway after construction in China. Photo: SalMar.

Strong partner

Aker has ownership interests concentrated in oil and gas, renewable energy and green technologies, maritime assets, marine biotechnology, and industrial software.

It is the largest shareholder, directly or indirectly, in 13 companies listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, Euronext Expand Oslo or Euronext Growth Oslo. Aker and companies in which Aker is the largest investor had a total turnover of more than NOK 75 billion in 2020, and a workforce of approximately 28,000, including temporary hires. In July, the company reported a record high net asset value of NOK 66.9 bn.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with a strong industry partner like Aker,” said SalMar chief executive Gustav Witzøe in a press release.

“Together, we will be at the forefront of ensuring sustainable growth on the salmon’s terms, utilising the potential of the ocean to produce healthier food, deploying digital technologies, cleantech, and using superior supplier industry capabilities at a critical time for ensuring sustainable food production in the long-term. Together, we can take the next technological leap for offshore farming, with a global ambition.”

‘A more sustainable era’

Øyvind Eriksen, president and chief executive of Aker, said: “The aquaculture industry is at the cusp of a new, more sustainable era, opening up for a new resource base and with green production.

“The new company combines Aker’s leading industrial track record within offshore operations with SalMar’s history as one of the world’s largest and most efficient producers of farmed salmon.

“We also share a vision for the potential of software, data, and analytics, and we believe we can join forces to take the next step to develop ocean farming, including using technology and joint industrial capabilities to protect ocean health, fish welfare and promote sustainable growth.”