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Arctic Fish succeeding with high growth despite challenging production conditions

6.5 kg after 16 months in the cold waters of Iceland

Despite the cold seawater temperature, Arctic Fish, based in Westfjords in Iceland, are achieving excellent growth results, with genetics from Benchmark Genetics.

For Stein Ove Tveiten, CEO of Arctic Fish, the production span is at large controlled by the timing of the smolt release to sea due to the cold seawater temperature in winter. Genetics also plays a key role, along with the size and quality of the smolts, feeding precision and fish health.

Three generations of experience with improvements year by year

We have experienced a production time between 16 and 24 months during the last three generations of production, but the trend is clear - growth is improving year by year”, says Svein Ove Tveiten.

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Svein Ove Tveiten, general manager at Arctic Fish.

The salmon Artic Fish harvested earlier this month spend only 16 months in the sea but reached an average weight of 6.5 kg and had a TGC of 3.38 at the end of production. The smolts were 270-gram on average when put to the sea on 28 May 2019, and Benchmark Genetics’ StofnFiskur delivered the salmon ova.

Future potential for increased growth with a new specially adapted salmon ova product

The salmon ova, of which Arctic Fish has produced this batch of fish originates from a standard product developed for growth in addition to several other traits”, says Robert Runarsson, the sales manager at StofnFiskur hf, a company in Benchmark Genetics.

Last year, the company launched a new product concept for the Icelandic industry called SalmoBoost, which Arctic Fish has now implemented in its production.

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"The industry in Iceland has far less challenge with disease and lice, and therefore the new concept has a higher genetic weighting on growth in the sea." Robert Runarsson, the sales manager at Benchmark Genetics

Also, Robert says that it is now up to the customers to take out the potential of this genetic gain by producing high-quality smolts, optimizing the feeding and handling of the fish in the sea. He is expecting that companies like Arctic Fish will experience progress in the years ahead when harvesting fish based on the new product.

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Picture from Arctic Fish.

The plans are ready for further growth

Arctic Fish’s smolt plant in Tálknafjördur was completed in 2018 and is a modern facility that runs on RAS and freshwater.

Today, we have a license for 1,000 tons of annual production, which we aim to utilize in the coming years. Then we have plans to increase both capacity and permits to a level of 2,500 tons”, Tveiten says.

The company has plans to grow in line with the Icelandic industry in general. The Institute of Marine Research has launched a framework of licences equal to a maximum of 106.5 thousand tons in the sea. Arctic Fish has ambitions to reach a market share of about 31% based on their current licences and new applications.

We believe that such a market share will give us the opportunity for a good structure allowing for optimizing the production cycles between the various fjord systems where we have our locations. Then we also can obtain natural barriers and introduce preventive measures against any future challenges to fish health.”

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From the left: Gunnar Daníel, Kristján Kári, Óskar Gíslason og Páll Líndal from Arctic Fish.

Self-sufficient with local genetics

Iceland has stringent rules for the import of live animals to prevent the supply of unwanted pathogens into the country. Therefore, farmers cannot import salmon ova from other producing countries, such as Norway.

StofnFiskur hf has run a breeding program for Atlantic salmon in Iceland since 1991 and supplies the entire Icelandic industry with salmon ova from its biosecure facilities on the south-west coast of the island.

“We have an excellent collaboration with StofnFiskur and feel lucky to have a local player like them to support the development that is now taking place in Iceland”.

“For us, it is essential with adequate follow-up, service, and access to a knowledgeable discussion partner, and we get this through the team at StofnFiskur. Besides, they deliver a documented high-quality product”, concludes Stein Ove Tveiten.

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