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World's first land-based salmon farm resumes full harvesting

Investors expect to start making money in the first quarter of 2016.

Next Tuesday will see Langsand Laks -- which is touted the world's first commercial land-based salmon farm -- process its first fish at its new in-house processing line.

Johan Photo: (Foto: Privat)
It's an "exciting time" for the company, Johan Andreassen (pictured left), chairman of Atlantic Sapphire, which holds a 94.5 percent stake in the company, told IntraFish.

About 7 metric tons will be harvested next week, and then the company plans to harvest around 20 metric tons every week after that, he said.

The result of all the company's efforts up until now is full control over its supply chain, lower contamination risks, and a reduction of its overall production cost.

Much has changed since the company struggled with production setbacks last year and in 2013, caused by bacteria from the intake water.

"We decided to do a controlled shut-down of the farm to install a very advanced water filtration system. We call it our 'firewall,'" Andreassen, who founded Norwegian salmon farming company Villa Organic, said.

The system consists of several layers of filtration with pharmaceutical grade water filters not used anywhere else in the salmon industry, he said.

"With the current system it is impossible to get bacteria into the farm through the intake water," he said.

In addition, the company installed a 2 kilometer-long water intake pipe to get get saltwater from the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Brighter future?

Langsand has been turning in red figures since its inception, in part from the production setbacks in the last couple of years.

However, Andreassen believes the company will start making money in the first quarter of next year, "once we hit steady state operation."

"All salmon farms have lost money in their build-up phase and we are no different from them," he said.

Andreassen relocated to Miami four years ago to open salmon supplier Platina Seafood, which distributes the Atlantic Sapphire fish.

"The target market for this product is customers that care about the environment and appreciate an exceptional sustainable product," he now said.

"In North America, we are working with a distributor partner in each region and through our partnerships, we will be able to supply and deliver to the door of most of the restaurants in the country.

"If you walk into a restaurant this winter and see a Seafood Watch Best Choice salmon on the menu, there is a pretty good chance it’s the Atlantic Sapphire salmon from Langsand."

How big the market could grow is "hard to say," he told IntraFish.

"What we do know is that this is considered by several NGOs as the ultimate solution for salmon farming due to the fact that is has no impact on wild species as well as the environment," he said.

Feedback from "sustainable-minded and eco-friendly" consumers has been "overwhelming."

"Many people are asking where they can get our products," Andreassen said.

Expansion plans

Atlantic Sapphire is already mulling increasing production at Langsand to 2,500 metric tons per year "within a couple of years."

In addition, it is in "final stages" of planning its first farm in the United States.

Of the critics who suggest land-based salmon farming is not commercially viable, Andreassen said, "If you snooze you lose."

"It is normal in any industry that 'the establishment' is criticizing new methods to justify the conventional methods," he told IntraFish.

"We don’t mind what they say and have no intention of going into an argument with these critics at this point. We know that what we are doing is viable and will let the numbers speak for themselves when the time comes."

Atlantic Sapphire has plans to retain its ownership in Langsand "in the years to come," Andreassen said.

"In five years Atlantic Sapphire will operate several farms producing a significant amount of salmon from land-based farms close to the end markets," he said.

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