Seafood production consultancy SmartAqua and construction firm Wiley have joined forces to develop land-based aquaculture solutions for sustainable growth in the industry.

COVID-19 has renewed a global food security push, focusing on domestic production and reduced reliance on imports, the partnership said.

SmartAqua has a 26-year history in aquaculture consulting around the world, with a growing focus on land-based farming and processing operations. Wiley has been a food facility project delivery business for over a century with a large, experienced engineering, design, and delivery team.

SmartAqua managing director Alastair Smart said global uncertainty has seen an increase in demand for recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for land-based aquaculture solutions.

Together, the companies have developed turnkey services for land-based aquaculture, recirculating aquaculture systems project management, processing plant design and construction.

SmartAqua RAS specialist Joseph Tuma said there were misconceptions that RAS was still in early development. “In fact, the sea cage salmon industry receives their supply of larger and larger smolt from their RAS facilities to provide the 2.4 million tonnes of annual salmon production.

“We have seen smolt sizes evolve from 30 to 100 to 150 grams, and now in some cases to 0.5-1 kilogram smolt in order to shorten the sea phase and manage risks in the sea, especially around sea lice. The tech is there, and the move to holding fish a little longer to reach sizes of 4-5kg is about managing the scale of the business.

“Studies have shown that the capex is similar to sea farming (don’t forget you still need a RAS facility for smolt production besides) and there are no expensive lease and licence fees required for sea cage operations.

“There are challenges, but in our opinion, the future of RAS fish production is positive and complements sea cage production by spreading risk,” Tuma said.

Wiley senior project manager Logan Ashmole said: “We are seeing an increasing number of proposed RAS projects, particularly for salmon-farming. There are more than 50 RAS proposed projects (and counting) to farm salmon on land. The total estimated production of these announced projects up to 2050 is equal to 25 per cent of total current salmon production at around 600,000 tonnes.”

Pure Salmon processing design

The two companies have been working with Pure Salmon to develop facilities around the world.

It is part of Pure Salmon’s plan to produce 260,000 tonnes annually, with new facilities planned in Japan, France, China, Brunei, Lesotho and the US. Each new location will have annual production or 10,000 or 20,000 tonnes per year, with vertically integrated production and processing facilities.

The company recently completed a US$358 million raise to fund its expansion plans.

Ashmole said: “We are very excited to be working alongside their team to bring these plans to reality. We have confidence in their vision and the potential for land-based aquaculture in the future, especially as countries look to secure their domestic food supply in the current environment.”

Ashmole said Wiley was engaged to conduct a completed concept, realise and define design for the salmon processing facility, which provided a design and construct set of documentation for local Japanese construction companies to complete the consulting design prior to construction.

Wiley and SmartAqua worked with Marel, Baader and Aquatic to develop a building concept specific to Pure Salmon’s needs for its Soul of Japan site. The plant will have capacity to process 10,000 tonnes of premium grade salmon a year.

Ashmole said the collaboration between companies was maintained throughout the realise and define design process and was critical to the project’s success.

The design will form a base for the other facilities in subsequent design phases.

This general concept facility was designed in line with Pure Salmon’s objectives which are aimed at taking pressure off the world’s oceans by producing salmon in regions close to the customer and thus reducing carbon emissions.

The clean technologies used will employ systems that have no negative impacts on marine ecosystems. The growing environment will be free of antibiotics, pesticides and pollutants providing the ideal environment for healthier fish and great salmon for Pure Salmon’s customers.

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