Bakkafrost plans to release smolts at 400g this year, and aims for 500g in the future. Photo: Bakkafrost.

Bakkafrost doubles smolt size for 2019

Faroese salmon farmer Bakkafrost expects to double the size of the smolts it puts to sea this year to 400 grams.

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It will also increase the number of smolts set out from 12 million last year to between 13.5 and 15 million, the company said in its 2018 annual report released today.

Its aim is to produce all smolts for release at an average weight of 500g by 2021. “The benefits are a shorter production time at sea as well as reduced biological risk,” said the company.

Increased capacity

In January, Bakkafrost announced a plan to increase the capacity of its hatcheries by a total of 30,000m³ by building a new hatchery at Ónavík in Suðuroy, and by increasing the capacity of its current hatchery sites in Norðtoftir and Glyvradalur to begin operation in 2021.

The construction of the hatchery in Suðuroy is expected to commence late 2019. It is part of a DKK 1 billion (£115m) investment Bakkafrost is making in its smolt operation between 2018 and 2022.

Bakkafrost reported that in 2017 and 2018 it observed increased mortality rates as a result of the strategy to avoid using chemical treatment against sea lice. High focus is being kept on improving procedures and equipment in order to reduce mortality level to previous levels.

Elevated mortality

The annual report stated: “The treatment against sea lice used to be medical bath treatment, but since 2015, when Bakkafrost began using fresh water treatment against sea lice and in 2017, when Bakkafrost began using lukewarm seawater against sea lice, Bakkafrost has not used medical bath treatment.

“Initially, these new mechanical treatments resulted in elevated mortality, but after a start-up phase and more experience and better knowledge of the equipment and the treatment methods, the mortality level has improved, but Bakkafrost is still working on improving the negative side effects of these mechanical treatments.”

Bakkafrost’s guidance for harvest in 2019 is 54,500 tonnes gutted weight, an increase on the 44,591 tgw harvested in 2018 and similar to the 54,615 tgw of 2017.

The company’s AGM will be held at the company’s headquarters in Glyvrar at 3pm GMT on Friday, April 5.

Find the annual report and 2018 sustainability report here.