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The Fisheries Directorate has withdrawn the development permit given to the
The Fisheries Directorate has withdrawn the development permit given to the

A Norwegian salmon grower planning a semi-closed fish farm has lost the single development permit it had been granted after making changes to its concept.

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Wenberg Fiskeoppdrett AS originally applied for 10 development permits for its OceanTECH concept, which it nicknamed the “UFO”, in November 2017. The permits allow fish farmers to grow extra biomass to offset the cost of developing new salmon farming systems.

Norway’s Fisheries Directorate granted it a single permit and also requested some additional information.

Changes to concept

After several meetings between Wenberg, its development partners TechnipFMC and BioVivo, and the Directorate of Fisheries, it became clear that changes had been made from the original concept that was granted one permit.

Among other things, instead of consisting of several separate, individually moored OceanTECH cages, it would now consist of six cages moored up to a process barge. The barge would be 150-metre long, rectangular, and able to accommodate three cages on each side.

Criterion no longer met

The Fisheries Directorate concluded that the applied project no longer fulfils the condition of “considerable innovation” and rejected the application.

In the original application, the OceanTECH unit is described as a semi-closed, cylindrical, floating concrete cage with integrated fish, water and waste processing plant. Wenberg planned an initial cage with a volume of 3,000m³, based on an upscaling of a 1000m³ concrete cage already built and under test. 

A scaled-up cage of 18,000m³ was planned during the project period.

An illustration of the OceanTECH concept. Image: Wenberg.
An illustration of the OceanTECH concept. Image: Wenberg.

Wenberg today said in a press release that it would appeal the Directorate’s decision.

Chairman Geir Wenberg said: “Very many of the development licences that have been granted so far have been given to concepts that will provide minimal or no effect in relation to solving the biggest challenges in the industry. 

“We believe that the development and growth of the industry must take place where the industry is today because that is where the conditions are best.”

Geir Wenberg:
Geir Wenberg: "We have in no way given up."

He said such sites provided protection, proximity to workers, competence, and transport links and argued that using OceanTECH would allow further development of those sites with technology that removes lice, escape and sludge problems and avoids area conflicts.

“We do not believe that growth in the Norwegian aquaculture industry will take place in the sea or on land,” said Wenberg.

‘Great confidence’

“Of course, we will appeal against the rejection and still have great confidence that the Ministry will sort out what the Directorate has done, and we have in no way given up. We know that OceanTECH is one project that should be realised because the technology will have an impact on the development of the Norwegian aquaculture industry.”

OceanTECH is a concept that must be developed to be sold nationally and globally, said Wenberg. 

“The technology should be so good that it is sought after worldwide for the production of more species than salmon.”

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