“This is a big and important day for the aquaculture industry in Norway,” said Nofima CEO Øyvind Fylling-Jensen. “The fact that Nofima is now starting to use an advanced and modern research centre in recirculation gives the industry yet another tool in their work to develop sustainable and future-looking solutions for aquaculture in the future.”
During her opening speech Berg-Hansen stressed the importance of such projects for Norway: “We need to steadily make improvements and innovations. We must work smarter and it’s precisely this that Nofima is doing when establishing such a research centre.”
Environmentally controlled aquaculture
Bendik Fyhn Terjesen, Senior Scientist and project manager at Nofima, has been waiting for this day: “The time was overdue to establish this centre. Recirculation looks like it will be implemented in the industry in the near future and we believe the focus must be on the fish and that the development must be knowledge-based.”
He believes recirculation can give better sustainability in “environmentally controlled aquaculture”, a term he introduced during the opening ceremony to reinforce that we must have full control of the water quality and nutrition. In that way we can truly exploit the full potential in the fish on its own terms.
99 % water saving
Recirculation offers many advantages. In Nofima’s plant, 99 % of the water is recycled, meaning extremely good control of the water environment and sensible utilisation of water resources. The fact that the plant is closed provides the fish with better protection against infection.
Fish farmed using RAS technology appear to be more robust when they are transferred to sea cages, as well as having more predictable survival and growth rates. It will be important to test this hypothesis systematically and find the direct causes for the results.
This research centre uses waste heat from Sunndal Energi and Hydro Aluminium Sunndal to heat the water, building and air.
Nofima is also studying how nutrients in the water can be recycled and used in other contexts, such as soil improvement. Nofima scientists recently published a report on this important field.
The industry sees research requirement
“You will have enough to do at this research centre,” say Klemet Steen from Lerøy Seafood Group and Ole Kristian Wilmann from Marine Harvest, both of whom have operational responsibility for RAS plants.
“There is a lot we have experienced that functions better using RAS technology instead of flow-through technology, but know little about the reasons,” says Steen. “There is a need to clarify certain threshold values. For instance we know little about how much waste feed the biofilters can endure.”
The centre is built to be flexible with the possibility to easily replace technology to enable research on future RAS-related challenges. Wilmann welcomes research that can clarify the potential of the various recirculation systems.
“We are also interested in cost-effective and rational methods for the regulation of water parameters in the process from roe to smoltified salmon,” says Wilmann.
Nofima is already well underway with research at the centre, and the industry has reason to expect useful results.
Local community effort
Several have stood side by side Nofima to build the recirculation centre.
“Without Sunndal Municipal Council, Møre og Romsdal County Council and Sunndal Næringsselskap, the research centre at Sunndalsøra would not have been a reality,” says Fylling-Jensen. “We would also like to express sincere thanks to Sunndal Energi and Enova for supply of waste heat and to the contractors, consultants, suppliers and research partners who have been involved.”