Monday, December 21, 2020

"The Rise of the Land Salmon"

No, not some evolutionary quirk like the walking sharks of Australia but rather an update on the Norwegian fish farming company, Atlantic Sapphire, which looks to own half the U.S. market.

Half the market.

From The Narwhal (Canada), December 19:

A U.S. farm is raising market-ready salmon that have never dipped a fin into the ocean. One company, Atlantic Sapphire, offers a shining, even glaring, example of what B.C.’s salmon farming industry says it cannot do — raise commercially viable salmon on land instead of the sea 

This is the first part of The Narwhal’s three-part series on the future of sustainable salmon.

Damien Claire stands inside an industrial complex on the outskirts of Miami, watching thousands of salmon fry dart this way and that in a circular tank. At nine weeks old, the youngsters are the size of paperclips and learning to feed. Instinctively, they school, turning into a swirling dark ball in the lime green light. 

Claire wears a bright safety vest and a white hardhat stamped with the logo of the company he works for, Atlantic Sapphire. It’s a brand that pops up frequently these days in seafood industry publications with names like Salmon Business and Intrafish.

Founded by two Norwegian cousins with an environmental ethos, Atlantic Sapphire got its start in Hvide Sande, a windswept Danish fishing village on the North Sea, where the company raised small batches of market-ready salmon that never dipped a fin in the ocean or a river. Today, the company is poised to become the largest producer of land-based Atlantic salmon in the world.

Claire, originally from France, is Atlantic Sapphire’s chief sales and marketing officer. He’s clean-shaven, has a movie-star accent and waves his hands around when he speaks. His enthusiasm is palpable, even through Zoom and a wonky internet connection. 

The fry, he explains, were transferred about two weeks earlier from an onsite hatchery, where they spent the first weeks of their lives eating their yolk sacs. In another 18 to 20 months, after moving through five more tanks that mimic the natural stages of their life cycle, from freshwater to saltwater, and something in between, they will be ready for the grill.

“It’s a little bit faster than in net pens because the fish always have ideal conditions,” says Claire, who previously worked for a large distribution company selling Chilean farmed salmon. “There is no winter here, there are no diseases, there are no sea lice. We optimize everything the fish needs.”

More than three million Atlantic salmon, in various stages of development, are swimming and schooling in what Atlantic Sapphire calls a Bluehouse. Think of a greenhouse, only for fish. The Bluehouse, a name trademarked by the company, is an hour’s drive from downtown Miami and 25 kilometres from the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay near the Florida Keys. From the air, the complex appears as a blaze of white bobbing in a sea of fields. The flotsam and jetsam of small farm buildings and plant nurseries fleck the surrounding landscape.

As global demand for protein grows, and wild fisheries collapse or reach peak harvest, Atlantic Sapphire hopes to help fill the gap with land-based salmon from the Sunshine State. The Bluehouse is close to major U.S. markets, avoiding the carbon footprint of farmed salmon flown in fresh from countries like Canada, Chile and Norway. Raising salmon on land side-steps the controversy that continues to entangle the open net pen salmon industry, which has been marred by mass escapes of Atlantic salmon into the Pacific Ocean — where it’s feared they could displace dwindling native salmon stocks — and accused of spreading disease and parasites to wild salmon. 

Atlantic Sapphire markets its salmon as ocean safe and planet friendly. “All natural,” the company advertises. “No hormones, no antibiotics, no parasites, no pressure.”

First Bluehouse harvest goes to market 

In late September, the Bluehouse completed its first commercial harvest of salmon. The fish were packed whole on ice and dispatched to an initial 120 grocery stores by truck, where they were sold with a “USA raised” stamp and an American flag. It took 48 hours for one truck to drive to Quebec, where the sushi-grade salmon — rated a “best choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch certification program and recommended by Ocean Wise — are sold at IGA stores.

Johan Andreassen, an Atlantic Sapphire co-founder who calls himself a salmon entrepreneur, tweeted a photo of an empty U.S. grocery store tray behind a Bluehouse Salmon label, saying, “When you raise truly sustainable Bluehouse Salmon that is super fresh, mild and delicious in the USA this is what can happen. SOLD OUT!” One commercial customer, Acme Smoked Fish, heralded the harvest as a “seismic shift” for the global seafood industry.....


Previously, April 24:

Norway's Atlantic Sapphire A/S Wants HALF the U.S. Salmon Market, Starting With a A $350 Million Farm In Florida (ASA-ME:Oslo)
That's by the year 2031. The goal for 2026 is a more modest 100,000 tonnes....

As for the sharks:

"Walking sharks discovered in the tropics"
     ....“At less than a metre long on average, walking sharks present no threat to people"

Said the one-legged man.