Norwegian scientists say there is good profitability in capture-based aquaculture of wild cod. (Photo: Frank Gregersen, Nofima)
Capture-based cod farming possible: scientists
Friday, April 16, 2010, 21:30 (GMT + 9)
When wild cod is kept alive in a cage, it can be sold fresh year-round and stable supplies could be of considerable value for some customers, say Norwegian Institute of of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima) researchers.
“We have examples of customers who are prepared to pay significantly higher prices in order to be assured of supply on set days of the week,” states Nofuma scientist Øystein Hermansen.
Unlike fisheries of wild cod, which vary with access to fish in the sea, capture-based aquaculture provides new opportunities. The concept is to catch wild fish, transfer them to sea cages, feed them until they weigh twice as much and then sell them for a good price when supplies of wild fish are low.
“Experiences associated with selling farmed cod and feedback from exporters both indicate good market opportunities for a first-class product of the right size and with guaranteed supply,” says Hermansen.
The scientists have developed economic models to calculate the profitability of capture-based aquaculture, and are now about to conclude an interview round with all the companies that practiced this method in 2009. Their experiences with growth, different feed types, operation and routines will form a central part of the models and are also useful for the actors, who can learn from each other.
The price of fresh cod normally varies a lot during the year. Prices are normally low when fisheries take place in winter, but rise in summer and autumn when there is less access to fresh cod. However, owing to the global recession, the price has fallen sharply in recent years and consequently it has been hard to earn money from capture-based aquaculture.
Last year around 2,000 tonnes of cod was harvested in the sea and fed out in cages, which is an extremely low proportion of the total supply of cod. However, the scientists believe there is significant potential.
"Our provisional calculations indicate that there is good profitability in capture-based aquaculture of wild cod," says Hermansen. "If you deduct the costs associated with fishing, feed and harvesting, you will still be able to earn more than two kroner more per kilo. The assumption is that the price development follows a normal season pattern."
The fishing vessels that catch the fish and transport it live to the sea cages can gain extra rewards from capture-based aquaculture. They get a better price for fish supplied live and, as they do not need to gut the fish, they can reduce expenses by reducing crew numbers on board. In the meantime, the fishermen have also received extra quotas for supplying fish for capture-based aquaculture.
This research is financed by the Norwegian Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF).
By Denise Recalde