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Lumpfish eggs destined for the UK are loaded on to a plane in Kristiansund in southern Norway. Photo: Skjerneset Fisk AS.
Lumpfish eggs destined for the UK are loaded on to a plane in Kristiansund in southern Norway. Photo: Skjerneset Fisk AS.

Private jets are normally the preserve of the super wealthy but are being used by a Norwegian company to carry a different kind of VIP – Very Important Packages of lumpfish eggs – to the UK.

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Skjerneset Fisk AS recently sent off a consignment of disease-free eyed eggs to its customers in Wales and Scotland, including Mowi-owned Ocean Matters. It was the second consignment to be made by private jet from Kristiansund to Manchester.

“We sent a full 38 litres with the last shipment, so that they can still maintain their large production of lumpfish for their salmon farming clients. We had to think in a new and creative manner, so we hired private aircraft for cargo of eggs,” said chief executive Tor Gunnar Otterlei.

It has cost more than £10,000 to fly this cargo to the UK. Photo: Skjerneset Fisk.
It has cost more than £10,000 to fly this cargo to the UK. Photo: Skjerneset Fisk.

No regular flights

Each litre contains between 50,000 and 70,000 eggs. Lumpfish eat sea lice and are used as a natural method of lice control on salmon farms.

Otterlei said the transport was very successful thanks to a fast crossing.

“The flight offer with regular transport aircraft both at home and abroad is almost completely stopped, which means that we have had to use messenger vans to get eggs around to customers in Norway and private flights to our five customers in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England.”

As well as Ocean Matters, Skjerneset Fisk supplies Dorset Cleanerfish, Three-Sixty Aquaculture in Swansea, Otter Ferry Seafish at Tighnabruaich, Argyll, and Bantry Marine Research Station in Ireland.

NOK 130,000 charter

Skjerneset harvests the eggs from wild-caught lumpfish. It considered growing brood fish but said almost year-round demand for eggs made the idea impractical.

The cost of finding alternative transport has not been cheap.

“It costs about NOK 130,000 (£10,200),” said Otterlei. “It is normally NOK 3,000.”

“It is the only way to do it,” added the chief executive. “If we didn’t do it, I think our customers would run out of fish.”

He said the extra cost was being split with customers.

If Covid-19 restrictions remain in place, the private plane will be taking off with Skjerneset’s next batch of eggs in early May. 

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