Norway Royal Salmon (NRS) is hoping to finally stock the first fish in its massive offshore salmon farming project, Arctic Offshore Farming, in the summer.

Stocking was originally planned for the fall of 2020 but in August last year, NRS said COVID-19 forced it to delay until Spring 2021. Now the target is the summer.

"The first cage is being finished and soon it will be on its way to Norway," said NRS CEO Charles Hostlund during the company's digital presentation of the quarterly report on Tuesday, adding that the first harvest is planned for the first half of 2022.

There is a total increase in the investment framework for the project of NOK 150 million (€14.7 million/$17.7 million), added Ola Loe, CFO of the company.

NRS expects to produce between 4,000 and 5,000 metric tons of fish in Arctic Offshore Farming in the development phase.

"But when we get it converted over to the usual license, we expect to harvest about 9,000 metric tons a year," said Loe.

The cage will be located at the site Fellesholmen outside Kvaloya in Tromso.

NRS reported an operating profit before value adjustments of NOK 17 million (€1.7 million/$2 million) for the fourth quarter, down from NOK 136 million (€13.3 million/$16.1 million) in the same period last year.

The company had an operating margin per kilo of salmon of NOK 5.05 (€0.49/$0.60), a sharp year on year decrease , where the operating margin was NOK 17.71 (€1.73/$2.08) per kilo.

Production costs amounted to NOK 43.69 (€4.30/$5.20) per kilo in the fourth quarter, up from NOK 40.44 (€4/$4.80).

"We have too high a production cost," said Hostlund. "Overall, we have delivered a quarter with a low margin. The market is still characterized by COVID-19, but if we look up we have a positive market picture. We expect a reduction in cost in the coming quarter."

The company's Icelandic subsidiary Arctic Fish will be listed on Euronext Growth next Friday, after a successful private placement this week.

NRS now owns 51.3 percent of the shares in Arctic Fish.