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Food production, employment and community development: People and fish have first priority

By: Inger Ellen Eftevand Orvin

National guidelines indicate a solid increase in ocean-based food production. The Bodø region consists of areas close to the coast with large offshore waters. This is a region where fisheries have traditionally played an important role and continue to do so.

Here important resources are managed, and in the continuation of our fishery story a different aquaculture story is now being written. In the book that will be telling this story to out descendants, there are still many blank pages.

Norway has the potential to become a much larger producer of seafood. The Bodø region is already a large actor in aquaculture activities and has the potential to increase its portion of food production multiple times.


Ocean strong region

The Bodø region already has a strong presence in the aquaculture industry. The municipalities have collectively backed the Salten Aquaculture Strategy Plan for 2017/-2027**, in which the vision is ‘Salten best at aquaculture’.

Environmental impact and access to production space are currently the main challenges facing the aquaculture industries including in the Bodø region. It widely agreed that food production is desired within environmentally friendly frameworks, and that one realises the importance of jobs along the coastline.

In this landscape, the industry is manoeuvring during a time when development is accelerating. In dialogue with authorities, research environments and environmental organisations, impact assessments are being carried out preferably related to the building of onshore facilities.


Major global need for food

The Government’s goal is that Norway shall further develop its position as a seafood nation. It is actually stated that we shall be the leading seafood nation in the world. We shall produce salmon and trout, create jobs and increase our export revenue.

The Norwegian Seafood Federation finds reason to believe that the Norwegian seafood industry can cover the seafood needs of 100 million people. Already in 2025, the production should have increased to 2.7 million tonnes of salmon and trout. The calculations show that such production may contribute to 56,000 FTEs and a GNP of NOK 62 billion, inclusive the ripple effects of other businesses.*

Onshore facilities

The fish farming group, Gigante Havbruk, was established in 1988, and now operates in eight municipalities, employs 150 people and has numerous sub-companies. Through subsidiary, Gigante Salmon, the company has now started building its first onshore facility.

“In 2016, the authorities abolished the requirement of a licence for onshore fish farming. The same year, we received an option to buy Lille Indre Rosøy in the Municipality of Rødøy,” says Kjell Lorentzen, Founder, Group Manager and Majority Owner.

The concept is based on a flow system, and the building of tanks with a longitudinal flow of water to optimise the flow rate, water exchange and purification.

“The goal is to prevent lice and fish escaping, reduced emissions, at the same time as the welfare of the fish is adequately safeguarded. Here we will employ approx. 45 people with a production of 16,000 tonnes of cleaned salmon per year,” says Kjell Lorentzen, who does not believe that onshore facilities will replace traditional facilities offshore, but they can be established as a supplement.

Production in Rødøy will start in 2023 with 1.1 million smolt.

Kjell Lorentsen (Photo: Inger E. Eftevand Orvin)

Research and development

Subsidiaries of Gigante Havbruk, Gildeskål Forskningsstasjon (GIFAS) and LetSea are significantly active within research and development.

The aquaculture stations carry out research projects on biological and technological problems in cooperation with schools, industry, university environments and other research environments. The two aforementioned research stations employ 50 FTEs within research.


Salten Aqua

Gigante Havbruk is one of three owners of Salten Aqua involving Broodstock and smolt production, slaughterhouse and sales company. Other owners are Edelfarm AS and Wenberg Fiskeoppdrett AS located in the Municipalities of Saltdal and Fauske, respectively.

Salten Salmon is located in Rønvikleira in Bodø where it operates a fillet factory and produces ready-made products for local and international markets. The company is owned by Polar Quality AS and is part of the Salten Aqua Group. Salten Salmon has expanded from 0 to 80 employees during the course of two years and 90% of the production is for exports.


Roe facility and slaughterhouse – both world-class

The term ‘roe season’ followed the natural spawning period of salmon, i.e. October-March, up until Benchmark Genetics Salten opened its facility in Kobbelv in the Municipality of Sørfold in 2019. The investment amounted to more than NOK 40 million.

The onshore facility allows one to have access to roe from onshore production the whole year. Ultrasound is used to check the sexual maturity of each individual Broodstock. Sexual maturity is controlled through light and temperature.

Full control of the biology of the fish, five separate biosecure zones do the same with comprehensive screening at the roe holder, which represents a very high biosecurity risk. The annual production exceeds 100 million roe grains.

General Manager, Anne-Kristin Skaugvold is extremely happy for the opportunity to supply Norwegian fishing farms with biosecure roe.

“Fortunately, the facility has lived up to the expectations. In addition, we have been lucky with the recruitment of local personnel from the Salten area. As per today, the staff are relatively young and competent. They work hard to achieve the goal of 150 million roe grains delivered within a few years,” says Skaugvold.”

In the Municipality of Steigen, one of the most modern salmon slaughterhouses is found. This is Cermeq, who contributes to ensuring that the whole value chain is represented from hatchery to smolt, production and slaughter. Fifty-five people work here with a high level of value creation.


Logistics that work

Today, Bodø is the largest aquaculture municipality in Norwegian measured by FTEs. According to Kjell Lorentzen, the logistics work.

“We have the herring oil factory which produces flour and oil. Løvold delivers all types of vessels and equipment. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority, County Governor and Directorate of Fisheries are located in the regional capital. Nord University offers education within aquaculture and the research department works directly aimed at the industry,” says Lorentzen.

What we’re missing is premises and space for growth,” says Lorentzen whilst emphasising: We have logistics and capital. It’s just a question of space. Several processes related to onshore facilities have started.

When asked what the industry lacks in Norway today, the answer is concrete:

“We lack producers of our own fish feed. Eighty per cent of it currently comes from abroad. For example, I’m waiting in anticipation to see what the domestic production of microalgae does for the industry. We need competitive Norwegian raw ingredients,” says Kjell Lorentzen.


* Sjømat 2025 – hvordan skape verdens fremste havbruksnæring FHL 2021 [Seafood 2025 – how to create the best aquaculture industry in the world, The Norwegian Seafood Federation 2021]

** Strategiplan Havbruk Salten 2017-2027

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