AN Icelandic company has been given the go-ahead to expand cod farming on a limited scale in the north-west region of the country. The development is interesting because Iceland is better known around the world for its conventional trawler catching of wild cod, arguably its most important fishing activity and seafood export. Few appreciate it also produces cod through aquaculture.
The country’s food agency has told Háafell, a subsidiary of Hrastfrystihusin – Gunnvarar (HG), that it has been granted an extended four year operating licence extension to cultivate 7,000 tonnes of fish, of which 6,800 tonnes is rainbow trout and 200 tonnes cod on a 17 acres site in Isafjord. It previously had permission for 2,000 tonnes of fish. HG said it has carried out a full environmental assessment on its plan.
Cod farming is not new. Norway tried it several years ago with a limited degree of success. But it presented biological challenges and with the nearby Barents Sea home to the world’s largest stocks of wild cod it became uneconomic. However, cod prices have shot up over the past two years which has led to renewed interest in both Iceland and Norway in this type of aquaculture.
The company began cod farming in a small way 18 years ago – from egg incubation to full sized fish. It said on its website this was a much awaited moment because the granting of aquaculture permits in the Isafjord region had been extremely slow in recent years. The initial application went in some time ago. With two modern trawlers, it is also a conventional fishing and seafood processing business with a market reach into North America, Europe and Asia.
Kristján G. Jóakimsson, HG’s production and marketing manager said the company was also keen to expand salmon farming in a big way, but the granting of this application was something to be getting on with.