The new company, SalMar Aker Ocean, aims to combine the experience of the salmon farming firm with Aker’s industrial expertise “to create the world’s most reliable and intelligent offshore farming operations with the highest requirements for fish welfare and a zero-emissions value chain ambition.”
SalMar is already a leader in the offshore aquaculture field, having developed the 6,000-tonne capacity Ocean Farm 1. It is also in the process of developing the Smart Fish Farm, which will have an annual production capacity of 22,700 tonnes of salmon per year.
“SalMar’s focus on the open ocean marked the start of a new era in the seafood industry. We are very pleased to be partnering with a strong industry partner like Aker. Together, we will be at the forefront of ensuring sustainable growth on the salmon’s terms, utilizing the potential of the ocean to produce healthier food, deploying digital technologies, cleantech, and using superior supplier industry capabilities at a critical time for ensuring sustainable food production in the long-term. Together, we can take the next technological leap for offshore farming, with a global ambition,” said Gustav Witzøe, CEO of SalMar, in a press release.
SalMar and Aker – through its wholly-owned subsidiary Aker Capital AS – will eventually own 66.6 per cent and 33.4 per cent, respectively, of the joint company, SalMar Aker Ocean, which will comprise SalMar’s interests in its semi-offshore and offshore farming operations. Aker will contribute up to NOK 1.65 billion in cash in three tranches.
The company will continue the ongoing work within testing, learning, researching, and developing offshore farming operations, including Ocean Farm 1; and the technology of the innovative Smart Fish Farms to be positioned in offshore Norwegian waters, and eventually internationally. Ocean Farm 1 and Smart Fish Farm have both been developed with a unique interdisciplinary partnership between SalMar – building on more than 30 years of experience - and world-leading players in Norway within aquaculture, offshore and R&D. Olav Andreas Ervik will head the company as CEO and the board will consist of six members, including Gustav Witzøe, Atle Eide, Kjell Inge Røkke and Øyvind Eriksen.
The new offshore technology opens vast new areas for fish farming with optimal biological conditions for the salmon. SalMar Aker Ocean will continue to develop the offshore technology to ensure production on the salmon’s terms, meet the highest requirements in respect of fish welfare and minimize the environmental footprint.
“The aquaculture industry is at the cusp of a new, more sustainable era, opening up for a new resource base and with green production,” said Øyvind Eriksen, president and CEO of Aker. “The new company combines Aker’s leading industrial track record within offshore operations with SalMar’s history as one of the world’s largest and most efficient producers of farmed salmon. We also share a vision for the potential of software, data, and analytics, and we believe we can join forces to take the next step to develop ocean farming, including using technology and joint industrial capabilities to protect ocean health, fish welfare and promote sustainable growth.”
Over two production cycles, 10,000 tonnes of salmon have been produced at Ocean Farm 1, a full-scale pilot facility. According to SalMar, the two production cycles have shown strong biological results and have given valuable insights in respect of future development. To further accelerate growth, the parties will immediately initiate a project to develop a next-generation semi-offshore unit, with an aim of reaching an investment decision for a new production unit as soon as possible.
Based on the experience from Ocean Farm 1, SalMar Ocean has developed the Smart Fish Farm technology, with an ambition to build a series of units for offshore production. SalMar Aker Ocean will continue this work to streamline and digitalize construction and operation processes and will jointly seek approval for locations and licenses offshore, initially within the Norwegian Economic Zone.
The company will initially focus on establishment of offshore fish farming in Norwegian waters, which will require establishment of a regulatory framework for offshore fish farming. In the longer term, SalMar Aker Ocean will target growth in international markets, building on experience and know-how from Norway.
The establishment of the joint company is subject to customary closing conditions, and closing is expected in Q1 2022. The parties aim for listing of SalMar Aker Ocean on a relevant stock exchange within one to two years’ time.