Aquaculture for all

The Holy Aquaculture Grail: Farmed Atlantic Cod

Cod Economics +3 more

BOD, NORWAY - A millionaire dot-com executive turned fishing entrepreneur is pursuing the holy grail of industrial aquaculture -- the Atlantic cod.

According to a news report by John W. Miller for the Wall Street Journal, Harald Dahl, founder of Norway's Codfarmers ASA, wants to infuse ancient Viking fishing grounds with high-tech equipment and modern management techniques, returning the Atlantic cod to the commercial prominence it once held.

The news organisation reports that Mr Dahl's dream comes as aquaculture, more craft than science until recently, appears ready to come into its own. "This year, for the first time, humans will eat more farmed fish than wild fish, according to a report being prepared by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization", says the report. Big-name investors, including J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley & Co., are backing Mr. Dahl's vision of high-tech cod farms.

A dozen Norwegian companies, including Marine Farms ASA and Salmar ASA, are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into exotic equipment and new technologies to raise cod and other salt water species, long avoided because they are so much harder to breed and feed than the omnivorous salmon.

According to the journal, the biggest prize is the Atlantic cod, a fish that gave Cape Cod its name and triggered fishing wars between nations. Today, the Atlantic cod is a $1 billion annual market, after a long, steep decline in catches. Over-fishing has slashed the annual Atlantic catch to 137,000 tons last year, from 1.8 million tons in 1968, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, a fishery research institute based in Denmark. Mr Dahl's company is backed by $100 million raised from investors including J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and the Hearst family.