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AQUA NOR 2015: What to Think About When Setting up a Fish Farm in a Foreign Country

24 August 2015, at 1:00am

If you want to start a fish farm in another country there are a variety of factors you must think about. Speaking at the Aqua Nor 2015 conference in Trondheim, Norway, Bjorn Myrseth, Vitamar AS, shares his experiences of over 40 years working in the aquaculture industry.

Before beginning your venture into aquaculture in a foreign country you must first set out a solid business plan and think about some of the following factors.

Firstly you must think about the legal conditions. This includes whether you can get a permit to set up a farm, what regulations or restrictions are in place for aquaculture and whether your plan fits in with them.

There may also be issues with the legnth of leases or with conditions over waste water disposal.

The environmental conditions of the area you are moving to is also important as this will effect what sort of fish you farm. It may also determine your source of water and how the water you use may be affected by the environment.

A good understanding of who your competitors will be is useful to know as this will help with deciding what species to farm, the volume you must produce and also the where and cost of selling (market analysis).

Working out your distance from other farms is a very important task as you need to think about potential disease risk from neighbouring farms.

As the information you need on the area you plan to work in is not always readily available, it is a good idea to make frequent visits and also to have a consultant from that country to help you obtain the information you need and to guide you on local procedures.

If you are seeking investment for your farm then it is good to show that you understand the process of farming as this is often needed for investor trust.

Other important things to think about include thinking about sources of feed, vaccines/veterinary services and eggs/juveniles and possible costs of having access to these.

Success Factors

In order to have a successful farm there are two important factors you must remember: your work force and your juvenile fish.

People are very important to the day to day activity on the farm. Ideally, you should have good experienced people who are interested and committed to what they do and also who are easy to train and want to learn more.

The quality of your juveniles is also very important as for good production you need to have a good start.

Challenges in Production

There will of course be challenges when setting up a fish farm. Some of the major challenges you may come across include:

  • Fish disease - bad health management and diseases could lead to the loss of all your fish and therefore huge profit losses.
  • vaccination - access to vaccines varies by country and it can be a long process getting vaccines aproved.
  • diagnostic help and advice - do you have people with this expertise located close to you?
  • neighbours - bad practice from even the smallest neighbouring farm can impact heavily on your production.

Marketing and Sale

At the end of the production cycle when you have harvested your fish it is important that you sell to the right market.

It is a good idea to sell fish to local markets both alive and/or dead on ice, depending on the demand.

Only as a last resort should you think about processing and export as this is often a lot harder for small scale farmers to gain access to due to the high volumes of fish required, certification schemes and import requirements of some countries.

And finally, Mr Myrseth commented that the most important thing you must remember when building an industry is to work together.

August 2015

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