The new factory is located outside Trondheim in Norway, and is built by the Norwegian company C-feeds.
Many companies and researchers across the world have tried without success to cultivate new species, and it is often the fry stage that has been the problem, because a large proportion of the young fish die during this early phase of production.
While salmon fry can eat dry feed from day one, saltwater species need live start-feed.
“Until now, cultivating tuna has been an extremely demanding, not to say impossible, process.
"Our copepods have turned out to be very suitable as baby food for fry, and we believe that tuna could represent a major market for us, since tuna are in great demand with sushi enthusiasts all over the world,” said C-Feed CEO Rune Bjerke.
The copepods will be used as live feed for fry, and could also revolutionise the cultivation of well-known farmed species such as halibut, lobster and ballan wrasse.
C-Feed, a spin-off from SINTEF which is Scandinavia's largest independent research organisation, has so far produced copepods on a small scale in Trondheim. When the new plant opens in the autumn, the company will start by increasing its production by a factor of ten.
“We are greatly looking forward to making the jump from small-scale production to the industrialisation of copepod cultivation,” commented Mr Bjerke.
Mr Bjerke points to ballan wrasse cultivation as having great market potential, particularly in Norway. Wrasse are in demand because they eat sea lice that live on the skin of salmon held in fish-cages, and are therefore among the most effective methods of combating plagues of lice.
“The production of fish-feed for ballan wrasse farmers could become our largest market in Norway,” said Mr Bjerke.
The venture attracted NOK 13 million of investment and has an estimated turnover in the region of NOK 10 million in the first full year of operation of the new plant.