Norcod has started earning money from its fish. Photo: Norcod.

Cod farmer makes first commercial harvest and targets 25,000 tonnes

Norwegian cod farmer Norcod has started its first commercial harvest, it announced today.

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Chief executive Christian Riber hailed the initial harvest as a “huge milestone” for the Trondheim-based company following an intensive four-year effort to start production from the fish farming venture in the North Atlantic.

Norcod expects to produce more than 5,000 tonnes of cod under a continuous harvest between now and February, Riber said in a press release.

Christian Riber: Majority of fish sold "well above budgeted levels".

‘Fantastic condition’

“We have had to start harvesting the fish a bit earlier than planned due to great biological performance. The fish are in fantastic condition and initial deliveries earlier this month have yielded highly positive customer feedback,” he said.

“The majority of the harvest volumes have been sold well above budgeted levels. As customers come to further appreciate Norcod and its many advantages it is expected that this price will increase. The market is looking very promising for the coming months.”

Norcod aims to become the world’s first producer of farmed cod on an industrial scale from its three farm sites in mid-Norway.

Growth tanks

The harvested fish are from the first batch of juvenile cod that was transferred from growth tanks into the sea in January last year.

A new batch of 2.4 million fish was transferred to the sea earlier this summer and is set to be harvested in the third quarter of 2022 towards a current annual production target of 9,000 tonnes, which is expected to increase to 25,000 tonnes by 2025.

A further batch of juveniles is scheduled to go into the sea phase in spring 2022 after they start their growth phase in December this year.

Norcod aims to produce 25,000 tonnes of cod annually by 2025.

Year-round deliveries

“This schedule puts us on track to increase production significantly over the next few years. Both the high quality and volume of fish produced so far gives us confidence that we can exceed our sales ambition by meeting market demand,” said Riber.

Norcod has secured buyers in advance for the fish as part of its marketing strategy to provide customers with stable year-round deliveries. Wild-caught cod is seasonal cod.

Jesper Hansen from Danish seafood customer Fiskerikajen said: “We buy the vast majority of our cod from low-impact fisheries. In the summer, it is sometimes difficult to get enough cod from sustainable fisheries. Therefore, we are pleased that we can now launch Norcod and are really excited about the great quality of this fish.”

Thicker fillet

Norcod’s produced cod command a higher price as the fish have an 8% higher yield than wild-caught cod and provide a thicker, meatier fillet, according to Riber.

Whole fish are initially being marketed in Spain, Scandinavia and the UK, with cod fillets destined for France, Germany and the US.

Norcod said it had taken advantage of biological advances and new technology to succeed in fish farming where others have failed, while adopting environment-friendly production methods.