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GM salmon ‘meeting targets’ ahead of first US harvest

Taking a salmon stake: Massachusetts-based AquaBounty has attracted investors since a labelling issue preventing sale of its fish was resolved last year.
Taking a salmon stake: Massachusetts-based AquaBounty has attracted investors since a labelling issue preventing sale of its fish was resolved last year.

Transgenic salmon being grown by United States fish farmer AquaBounty are meeting growth and feed conversion ratio expectations, the company said today.

The AquaAdvantage Salmon (AAS) are being raised in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Albany, Indiana and are due to be harvested in the current quarter.

Announcing results for the third quarter of 2020, AquaBounty said it had made a net loss of $3.6 million, compared to a loss of $3m in the same quarter in 2019.

$39.5m in the bank 

Operating expenses for Q3 were $3.7m, an increase of $700,000 on Q3 2019 because of increased production operations and legal fees.

Despite continued losses, AquaBounty share placements have been successful, and the company had a cash balance of $39.5m at the end of September, compared to $2.8m at the end of 2019.

Sylvia Wulf: Company is building a logistics network.
Sylvia Wulf: Company is building a logistics network.

“The third quarter of 2020 was marked by our continued progress towards the first-ever commercial scale harvest of AquAdvantage salmon,” said chief executive Sylvia Wulf.

Logistics network

She said that work harvesting conventional salmon in Q2 allowed AquaBounty to implement logistical and operational processes for a successful and de-risked first harvest of AAS.

“We have made tremendous strides towards building out an enhanced logistics network to expand our distribution capabilities nationwide,” said Wulf, who added that AquaBounty continued to form relationships with additional customers “who continue to be receptive to our sustainably grown salmon”.

“To that end, we are now preparing to send out the initial AAS product samples for customer feedback which we expect to be positive given its benefits of competitive pricing, freshness, quality and domestic sourcing in America’s heartland,” said the executive.

10,000-tonne farm

Late last month AquaBounty announced that it had chosen Mayfield, Kentucky for the site of a 10,000-tonnes-per-annum RAS facility to increase production of AquAdvantage salmon.

The site at Albany has an annual capacity of 1,200 tonnes. AquaBounty also has a production RAS on Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada. The first AAS are due to be harvested on PEI early next year.

AAS are the descendants of Atlantic salmon produced with a single, specific molecular modification that results in more rapid growth in early development, making RAS production more cost effective.