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Land-based salmon farming just got real

Mark your calendars -- this was a pivotal week in the development of land-based salmon farming.

The drum beat has been getting louder over the past year: land-based salmon farming, once dismissed as an economic non-starter, is now commercially viable, and this week marks a leap forward in taking the sector mainstream.

With experienced salmon farming industry analysts at major lenders including DnB and Pareto showing production costs in some cases well below conventional netpen levels, producers now have the third-party justifications they were looking for to bring more investors into the fold, and two companies just announced their intentions to make their long-time visions a commercial reality.

First was AquaBounty, developer of AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon, which announced earlier this week it acquired its first US commercial production facility -- a RAS system formerly owned by Bell Fish Company.

By moving to a commercial phase, AquaBounty can now prove both the economics and the market acceptance for land-based farmed salmon using GM technology. It's got a perception hurdle to overcome, but with some signs pointing to more consumer acceptance for GM, the company's broodstock may play a critical role in making land-based salmon systems far more affordable, and thus far more prevalent.

On Wednesday, the Elon Musk of land-based salmon farming, Johan Andreassen, announced that his company, Atlantic Sapphire, plans on raising more than $100 million (€92.4 million) to finance two phases of its land-based operations in Miami and Denmark. Not only that, but an IPO on the Oslo Stock Exchange is on the schedule.

Without capital, land-based systems can't thrive, and without patient and faithful investors, they can't be sustained.

Investors in Atlantic Sapphire and AquaBounty have already put a lot of money into the projects -- the fact that they're willing to put even more in shows their belief.

So welcome to the future, and an entirely new dynamic in the farmed salmon industry.


Follow me on Twitter:@drewcherry


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