Norcod's first fish had a bFCR of 1.007. The company expects to harvest 5,000 tonnes by the end of Q1 2022. Photo: Norcod.

Cod farmer highlights impressive feed conversion

The first batch of fish harvested by Norwegian cod farmer Norcod had a better-than-expected biological feed conversion ratio (bFCR) of almost one for one, the company said today.

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“We used 1.007 kg feed to get 1 kg of cod across the site, in one pen achieving a bFCR of 1 straight, which is absolutely fantastic,” said Norcod production director Rune Eriksen, who formulated the feeding strategy.

“I’m personally delighted but this is all down to the dedication of our site technicians caring for the fish on a daily basis and ensuring the feeding regime is executed precisely.”

Rune Eriksen: "Fantastic" FCR.

Pilot batch

Norcod started harvesting its pilot batch in the middle of August and slaughtered 345 tonnes (round weight) by the end of September, it said in its third-quarter report.

The fish had an average weight of 3.7 kg and earned the company NOK 15.9 million (£1.4m) in revenue.

“This very significant milestone is proof of concept, demonstrating that Norcod has achieved commercially viable, biologically superior farmed cod, which paves the way for a positive and lucrative future for the industry,” the company said in its Q3 report.

NOK 8.1m operating loss

Overall, Norcod made an operating loss of NOK 8.1m in Q3, which it said was due to higher relative costs of harvesting smaller volumes for the period.

It had made a strategic decision to start the harvest at a manageable low volume of approximately 50 tonnes per week to allow for any teething troubles to be sorted out, but this will increase to 250 tonnes.

“It is therefore not unexpected that we will not achieve economies of scale until later in Q4, which the Q3 results clearly reflect,” said Norcod. Costs are then expected to fall significantly.

Production volume from the first cycle of sea placements will reach 5,000 tonnes and is expected to be fully harvested by the end of Q1 2022.

2.4m juveniles

During the summer a batch of 2.4 million fish with an average weight of weight of 80-100 grams was transferred to three sea sites at the company’s locations in Meløy and Frøya. The fish are expected to be market ready in 2022/23.

Norcod said preparations for its third round of transferring juveniles to land-based growth facilities are well under way. This batch of seventh-generation juvenile cod from the company’s joint venture partner, Havlandet Marine Yngel AS, is scheduled to go into sea phase in spring 2022.

Christian Riber: Very positive feedback from buyers.

A viable model

The company’s chief executive, Christian Riber, said Norcod’s fish had been sold to the European and North American markets and had attracted very positive feedback from buyers, which was motivating for staff.

“It cements confidence in our business case proving that cod farming is viable not just on paper, our focus on responsible farming and fish welfare, and in our ultimate objective to provide a source of healthy protein for a hungry world.”

He said Norcod has taken advantage of both biological advances and new technology to succeed in cod farming where others have failed, while investing in the latest environment-friendly production methods including battery-powered service boats.