Salmon giant Cermaq is partnering with Norway-based kelp company Folla Alger to grow salmon and kelp in the same netpen site.

Last week, research group SINTEF Ocean delivered the first kelp to be stocked at the site in Steigen, Norway.

This is the world's first sea site that has been built for the combined production of both salmon and kelp, where the kelp will be grown inside the farm itself, according to the companies.

The sea site is designed as a traditional salmon farming facility with 24 cages, but with the capability for growing kelp in the middle cages and salmon in the outermost cages on each side.

"The combined operation can provide good area utilization by producing several species within the same area," SINTEF Ocean Research manager Silje Forbord said.

"The area is already set aside for salmon, and by growing kelp on the same site, we hope to contribute to increasing value creation. This setup allows us to use the nutrients released by the salmon in a sensible way by producing kelp, which can in turn be used as a raw material in new feed," Silje said.

"The operation will be an important contributor to the green shift," Folla Alger Chairman Tarald Sivertsen said.

"This is a very exciting project where we can both utilize nutrients from the net pens as a resource, and obtain more alternative feed raw materials," said Truls Hansen, Cermaq's production director in Nordland.

Some of the nutrients released from salmon netpens are water soluble. These nutrients will fertilize the kelp and lead to increased carbon sequestration as the kelp grows. With the help of photosynthesis, the kelp utilizes the sunlight, grows and binds carbon from the sea, which is the same process that trees and plants do on land.

The project will also look at how kelp production affects the aquatic environment in the netpens, and what effect the combined production has on the health of the fish in the cages.

Folla Alger has been granted R&D licenses from the Directorate of Fisheries to carry out the project. SINTEF Ocean is responsible for the research, which will be carried out in close collaboration with Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Nord University.

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