Benchmark Genetics has signed a five-year agreement to supply US land-based salmon project AquaCon with salmon ova.

The contract involves deliveries of genetics to the facilities AquaCon is planning to build in Maryland, with Benchmark's Icelandic company, StofnFiskur, set to supply approximately 40 million ova to AquaCon over five years.

"As a leading supplier to land-based farming, we have gradually gained comprehensive experience in securing deliveries to destinations all over the world," said Benchmark Genetics Commercial Director Geir Olav Melingen.

"Since we keep our broodstock on land and thereby have full control over the maturation and spawning, we are in the position to produce and deliver ova to customers every single week of the year. The term "egg season" is outdated with us."

Security of supply was an essential factor for AquaCon's choice of Benchmark as a supplier, according to CEO Pal Haldorsen.

"We have chosen to secure genetics at an early stage, as we consider ova as a key strategic success factor of our ambitious growth plans," he said.

“Our production plan presupposes regular deliveries of ova throughout the year, and Benchmark Genetics has a production model for land-based broodstock that makes us confident that we will receive deliveries following our plans.”

AquaCon is launching a private placement to raise funds during the second half of this year, a precursor to an eventual initial public offering (IPO) on the Oslo Stock Exchange's Merkur Market in the first half of 2021.

AquaCon is registered in Norway, and has assembled a team of experienced Norwegian land-based salmon farming executives for the project, including former Mowi Head of Fresh Water Operations Paal Haldorsen, who will serve as CEO; former Atlantic Sapphire Denmark MD Ole-Christian Norvik, who will serve as COO; and AquaTech Solutions founder Ole Enggaard Pedersen as CTO. Former Mowi COO Marit Solberg will serve on the board.

Aquaculture equipment supplier Akva Group is signed up to a $130 million (€115 million) contract to construct the farm.

It plans 45,000 metric tons of head-on gutted production across three phases, with 15,000 metric tons HOG at each facility located on three nearby sites on the eastern shore to be built over a 5 year period, with a planned construction start date in the first quarter of next year.