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Bakkafrost tops Q1 table despite ISA challenge

23 May 2017, at 1:00am

Bakkafrosts farming segment harvested 13,200 tonnes at an EBIT of NOK 34.27 per kg in the first quarter of the year an impressive margin despite facing a number of biological challenges.

Commenting on the result, CEO Regin Jacobsen said: "There were challenges in the farming operation in this quarter, as ISA-virus was confirmed on one farming site. Since ISA suspicion arose in July 2016, Bakkafrost has monitored the development at the farming site closely together with the authorities. Timely action has been taken and all fish harvested immediately."

The biological situation had been highlighted as the company’s most important risk area. The confirmed presence of pathogenic ISA-virus at farming site A-73 in March, draws attention to the importance of a high quality veterinary system to reduce the biological risk. Harvest of the fish at the site was finished on 12th April, and the site is now in fallow. Bakkafrost focuses on biological risk continuously and has made several new investments and procedures to diminish this risk.

The investments in producing larger smolts will gradually reduce the time needed in the fjords to farm the salmon. This is expected to reduce biological risk and increase the capacity. The capacity growth from this investment program will appear in harvested volumes gradually until 2021.

Sea lice is an area, which has demanded much effort and is a part of the biological risk. The new Faroese regulations on sea lice control, which aim at reducing the number of sea lice even further, is expected to increase the operational costs for farming salmon in the Faroe Islands.

The company has pledged to remain focused on using non-chemical methods in treatments against sea lice. Bakkafrost's live fish carrier M/S Hans á Bakka has carried out freshwater treatment against sea lice since Q4 2015. In Q4 2016, they invested in a service vessel, M/S Martin, which will primarily use lukewarm seawater treatment against sea lice. M/S Martin started operation in Q1 2017. In addition to M/S Martin, the company invested in another service vessel, M/S Róland, in Q1 2017. M/S Róland is equipped with the same system as M/S Martin and is expected to start operation in June/July 2017. Furthermore, Bakkafrost will increase the use of lumpfish significantly in 2017.

The Faroese firm expects to harvest 53,500 tonnes gutted weight in 2017.

Senior Editor at The Fish Site
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