Johan Andreassen, left, and Karl Øystein Øyehaug during one of Atlantic Sapphire's updates. In August the executives were optimistic that the company was heading for profit but must now overcome another hurdle.

New setback for Atlantic Sapphire

‘Above normal and increasing mortality’ forces early harvesting and sub-premium prices for land-based salmon farmer


On-land salmon farmer Atlantic Sapphire’s hope of finally making a profit has been set back by above normal and increasing mortality in certain systems at its recirculating aquaculture system facility in Florida.

In a stock market announcement, the company said the problem led to fish from these systems being harvested earlier and at a lower average weight than originally planned, impacting price achievement.

Atlantic Sapphire said in an operational update on August 26 that it expected a higher price achievement for its harvested fish in the second half of 2022 compared to the average realised price for its harvested fish in the first half of the year.

But today it said average harvest weight in the second half of 2022 is now expected to be around 2 kg HOG (head on gutted), and that revenue for the second half of 2022 is estimated to be around the same level as in the first half of 2022.

Corrective actions

“The company continues to investigate the cause of the above normal mortality in certain fish systems to be able to take further corrective actions and minimise future mortality. As highlighted in the August 2022 Operational Update, the company is in the process of upgrading the farm infrastructure (including the intake water pre-cooling system) to ensure temperature stability and improved biological performance,” said Atlantic Sapphire.

“The company’s harvest guidance of 800,000 – 1,000,000 fish in the second half of 2022 remains unchanged and the biomass gain and harvest volume expectations for 2023 are not impacted by the early harvest.”

During August’s online operational update, Atlantic Sapphire’s executives said they company was on the verge of making land-based salmon farming profitable and pointed to reduced operating losses of $12.3 million for the first half of 2022, around a quarter of the $49.7 m lost in the same period the year before.

No die-offs for 17 months

After enduring a variety of early setbacks, the fish farmer had not had an extraordinary mortality event for 17 months, co-founder and chief executive Johan Andreassen said.

With current estimated growth rates (in August), a fully stocked Phase 1 farm would yield the equivalent of around 8,500 gutted weight tonnes annually, the company said.

“This would get us into black numbers,” Atlantic Sapphire ASA managing director Karl Øystein Øyehaug said in a Q&A at the end of the update.

According to its H1 financial report, Atlantic Sapphire’s total harvest volume was 1,217 tonnes (head on gutted) for the first six months of this year.