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Chilean RAS farmer making first king salmon harvest

Sealand's RAS facility in southern Chile. Photo: Sealand Advanced Aquaculture.
Sealand's RAS facility in southern Chile. Photo: Sealand Advanced Aquaculture.

A Chilean company that has been farming king (Chinook) salmon in an on-land facility in Patagonia is making its first harvest, with fish destined for customers in the United States, Japan, Singapore, Chile, Brazil and Europe.

The first phase of Patagonia King Salmon’s recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility has a capacity of 100 tonnes per year and will be expanded to produce 500 tonnes annually by 2024.

Patagonia King Salmon is owned by Sealand Advanced Aquaculture, which also produces 2,400 tonnes of Atlantic salmon smolts and post-smolts for salmon farmers.

Patagonia King Salmon grows its fish in a RAS. Photo: Sealand Advanced Aquaculture.
Patagonia King Salmon grows its fish in a RAS. Photo: Sealand Advanced Aquaculture.

Wild-caught fish

King salmon are not native to Chile and the company’s fish are bred from wild-caught kings descended from fish introduced into the country’s waters in the 1990s.

Patagonia King Salmon was founded by Sealand directors Oscar Gárate and and Hans den Bieman. Gárate is owner of Chilean salmon industry data provider Aquabench, and den Bieman is a former chief executive of Marine Harvest and chief operating officer of feed company Nutreco, and the current chair of both Netherlands-based yellowtail producer The Kingfish Company and Singapore-based Barramundi Group.

Regenerative diet

The company’s fish are fed on a diet of sustainably caught krill meal, fish oil, fish meal and regeneratively produced insect nutrients. In conjunction with an associated company, Natpro, Patagonia King Salmon’s by-products are used to grow black soldier fly larvae to feed the fish.

The company is increasing the percentage of insect nutrients to the point where it eventually aims to replace the need for fish-derived protein almost entirely.

“We like to call it forward farming, which means that we are on a journey to produce superlative quality fish with the least possible impact on the environment to meet future demand,” said den Biemen.