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Floating closed containment salmon farm planned for US

A visualisation of the American Aquafarms hatchery and processing facility. Image: American Aquafarms.
A visualisation of the American Aquafarms hatchery and processing facility. Image: American Aquafarms.

A US-based company backed by a Norwegian investor has announced plans to farm Atlantic salmon, and possibly cod, in floating closed containment pens off the coast of Maine.

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American Aquafarms has struck a deal to buy the Maine Fair Trade Lobster facility in the town of Gouldsboro, where it plans to develop its hatchery and processing facilities.

The company’s chief executive is Mikael Rones, who is also CEO of Norwegian investment company Global AS, which founded American Aquafarms last year after the successful founding of Norwegian cod farmer, Norcod. Rones is no longer involved with Norcod.

American Aquafarms plans to use closed containment pens. Click on image to enlarge.
American Aquafarms plans to use closed containment pens. Click on image to enlarge.

Natural habitat

“We strongly believe that finfish should be farmed in its natural habitat, in the ocean, with the focus on using the best possible technology to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Rones in a press release.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the town of Gouldsboro and area fishermen to share our cutting-edge aquaculture technology that can provide year-round jobs for residents of the region.”

Eco-friendly system

American Aquafarms said it is currently meeting with area lobstermen as it considers sites for its Ecomerden closed pen technology currently used in Norway.

The company said the technology leverages deep water sites and eliminates fish escapes, controls waste from entering the ocean, and eliminates the threat from sea lice with an overall low environmental impact.

“Our new technology addresses major challenges in the traditional aquaculture industry, through the use of an eco-friendly closed pen system that will set a new standard for fin fish farming in US,” said Rones.

US market

The company said partners in the American Aquaculture project included leading aquaculture designers and developers including ScaleAQ, AMAR Group, Aqua Knowledge and Isfjord Norway.

“American Aquafarms, based in Maine, will serve the US market demand for finfish, thus reducing the carbon footprint of long-distance air freight required currently by imports to the US,” said Rones.

Ecomerden’s cage is a floating, semi closed, heavy duty, closed containment aquaculture production system which can be used both for production of post-smolts for transfer to open cages or for a full production cycle from smolt to harvest.

Fabric bag

The floating collar holds a fabric bag made from an extremely strong heavy-duty textile membrane. Inside the fabric bag is an ordinary net pen for extra security and easy collection of the fish.

Water is collected at depth through four pipes and pumped into the bag at four positions creating a circular current. Oxygen is continuously added to the inflowing water creating optimal and stable environment for fish health, zero lice, high survival, low feed conversion ratio and high growth.

According to Ecomerden, during three post-smolt production cycles in a cage at Sulefisk in western Norway sea lice infection was negligible and no delousing treatment necessary.

News of the American Aquafarms’ plan follows an announcement last month by a new Scottish company, Loch Long Salmon, that it intends to farm salmon in floating closed containment in Scottish lochs.

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