The first eggs have gone into a new hatchery at Radøy, in the Nordland region of Norway, one year after construction began.
Currently, Helgeland Smolt has put in three million eggs, but the company has been licenced to produce eight million smolts per year.
We are talking about large quantities and large fish, managing director Tor-Arne Gransjøen told Norwegian news source NRK Nordland. “When operational, we will produce 40,000 tons of smolt annually.”
The smolt produced in the hatchery will weigh up to 250 grams when they are sold on to fish farms in Nordland. Gransjøen pointed out that smolt sold to the industry today have an average weight of around 100 grams.
“We want to produce larger fish because industry wants bigger fish, which need less time in the cages. Among other things, to overcome the problems with lice,” he said.
When the fish have grown too large for the hatchery, they will be transported in well boats to fish farms in the region, from Vega in the south to Bodø in the north.
The price tag for the new facility was more than 300 million (US $36 million).
The 13,000 square meter building in Helgeland municipality contains seven departments, adapted to the age and size of the fish.
Smolt production normally requires large amounts of water, but at Helgeland Smolt up to 90% of the water is to be reused.
So far, the hatchery has provided 14 new jobs, and Gransjøen thinks there may be more opportunities once production is fully underway in 2017.