Ocean Farm 1: SalMar has now designed a cheaper-to-build Ocean Farm 2 with more capacity. Photo: SalMar.

Coming soon? Ocean Farm 2 and a 23,000t super-cage

Ocean Farm 1 pioneer SalMar may have several units of an updated version of the huge cage in operation by 2024, it said in its annual report published today.

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It could also have its “next step” Smart Fish Farm in operation by the second half of that year. The Smart Fish Farm would be “significantly larger” than Ocean Farm 1, with a production capacity of 23,000 tonnes round weight.

SalMar, which has invested NOK 1 billion (£86.4m) in the design and development of Ocean Farm 1, said: “Experience from the construction and operation of Ocean Farm 1 has made it possible to develop even better and more cost-effective solutions.

Cheaper and bigger

“Through systematic and thorough planning, the design has been further refined in a new version, Ocean Farm 2. Estimated construction time and costs have been reduced, and capacity increased.

“The company has identified and initiated discussions with shipyards in Norway and abroad, which could be potential construction sites.

“It has also identified areas along the Norwegian coast that could be suitable production sites. No final investment decision has yet been taken, but the company plans to build a series of such facilities.

“Given a decision in 2022, new units could go into operation with effect from 2024.”

The Smart Fish Farm would have room for 23,000 tonnes of fish. Image: SalMar.

100-year storm

The Ocean Farm is intended for exposed areas, while the Smart Fish Farm goes further still.

“It has been specially designed for fish farming in the open ocean and can withstand a 100-year storm. The facility will have a production capacity of 23,000 tonnes round weight, and a production volume of 760,000 cubic metres,” said SalMar.

The company was awarded eight development licences for the Smart Fish Farm project in 2019, giving it temporary permission to grow 6,240 tonnes of fish in the structure when it is built, but it still needs permission for a site.

Investment decision

“Throughout 2020, SaMar Ocean has further developed and specified its plans for the Smart Fish Farm. These were detailed in a comprehensive application to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries for approval of a site in the Norwegian Sea, which was submitted in January 2021,” said SalMar in its report.

“The application was published and distributed to a number of bodies for comment. Comments received are currently being considered by the Directorate.

“If the authorities approve the plans during the summer of 2021, SalMar will be in a position to make an investment decision this autumn, and the Smart Fish Farm could be operational in the second quarter of 2024.”

A Scottish Ocean Farm

SalMar’s development of the cheaper-to-build Ocean Farm 2 may benefit Scotland salmon farmer Scottish Sea Farms, which is jointly owned by SalMar and fellow Norwegian salmon farmer Lerøy and wants its own Ocean Farm-style development.

Plans to talk to Scottish regulators about the concept have been on hold because of the Covid pandemic but SSF confirmed that its board remained committed to the idea.