Moving fish farms out to sea

The world’s largest offshore fish farm has been installed off the coast of Norway. The aim is to produce safer and more sustainable seafood.

At a glance

  • The world’s largest offshore fish farm
  • Improved fish welfare
  • Data collection and automation for optimal production

One third of the world’s fish stocks have reached their biological limits from overfishing, according to WWF – yet an increasing global population demands more food every year.

Fish farming has long been acknowledged as a solution to combatting overfishing while upholding growth in food production. Traditional fish farms, however, face problems such as build-up of waste and faeces on the seabed, disease and fish escapes.

Moving fish farms out to sea can help to solve a number of these problems. The open ocean offers more space, deeper waters and stronger currents. Ocean currents are particularly effective for reducing the spread of parasites and pollution of the water column. Greater distance to the shore also minimises interactions with wild fish and resulting negative impacts such as compromised reproductive health.

Pioneering facility

Ocean Farm 1 is one of the world’s first offshore fish farms. A full-scale pilot facility, it is located some 5km off the coast of Central Norway, at the same latitude as Alaska. It is the largest such structure in the world, measuring over 100m across and extending more than 40m below the ocean surface. The facility can hold approximately 1.5 million Atlantic salmon in total.

The pioneering fish farm also features cameras, oxygen sensors and other digital equipment. By collecting as much data as possible about the farmed fish, operators can optimise feeding, interaction and environmental conditions. The creators have described the facility as the “world’s largest floating laboratory”.

Concrete benefits

Ocean Farm 1 helps to minimise environmental footprint, improve fish welfare and avoid space constraints, providing greater opportunities for responsible, environment-friendly fish farming. It also offers extensive data collection, close monitoring and automation, enabling fish farmers to optimally manage large populations of fish and maximise production.

Market potential

Aquaculture has been the fastest growing food production sector for the past 20 years, according to the Financial Times. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization expects the sector to continue to grow by four to five per cent a year for the next decade. Offshore farming can bring aquaculture another step forwards, both in terms of expansion and sustainability.

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Runar Sivertsen
Runar Sivertsen
IRO SalMar ASA
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SalMar ASA
Industriveien 51, NO-7266 Kverva, Norway
+47 72 44 79 00
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