Bernt-Olav Røttingsnes at Fredrikstad Seafoods, which has been switched from salmon to kingfish production. Nordic Aquafarms has now decided to grow kingfish in California, too.

Nordic swaps from salmon to kingfish in California

Land-based fish farmer downsizes plans for RAS facility from 33,000 to 10,000 tonnes


Nordic Aquafarms has scrapped plans for a 33,000-tonnes-per-year land-based salmon farm in California and will instead build a smaller facility for yellowtail kingfish on the site, it announced today.

The Norwegian company already operates two kingfish recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facilities in Denmark and has swapped its Fredrikstad Seafood RAS in Norway from salmon to kingfish, which fetches a better price.

Nordic is currently engaged in the permitting process for a RAS facility on the Samoa Peninsula, Humboldt County, in northern California, and expects the process to be completed within 15 months.

It said that following completion of the permitting process, it plans for construction of a 2,000-3,000- tonne facility as phase 1. Fully built out, the facility may produce above 10,000 tonnes of yellowtail kingfish annually.

Great potential for yellowtail

“We see a great potential for yellowtail kingfish in the US and we are looking forward to bringing the knowledge from our Scandinavian farms to California,” said Nordic chief executive Bernt-Olav Røttingsnes.

“We have good biological results in Scandinavia, the market for this fantastic product is strong, and the property in Humboldt County is unique on the West Coast with its existing infrastructure.

“A yellowtail kingfish farm can be profitable at smaller scale, due to its higher prices and strong performance in RAS systems, enabling us to develop a smaller facility than planned for salmon, that can be expanded alongside the growing market.”

Better margins

In February last year, Røttingsnes told Fish Farming Expert’s Norwegian sister site., that the company would continue to develop facilities to produce salmon on land in the US, and possibly Asia, while prioritising kingfish in Europe.

Asked what had changed, he point to great biological results for yellowtail kingfish production in Denmark, and a growing market for the fish.

“The prices and margins are better with yellowtail kingfish than for salmon, and the market on the West Coast is the largest outside of Japan,” he told Fish Farming Expert.

Plans for a 33,000-tonne RAS salmon farm in Belfast, Maine, have not changed.

In January this year, Røttingsnes told Norwegian business newspaper Finansavisen that the planned 33,000-tonne salmon RAS facilities in California and Maine would cost between $500-$600 million each to fully develop.