Live cod is profitable
Nofima has mapped the industry’s experiences with capture-based aquaculture of cod.
The fish farmer’s contribution is invaluable
Previous studies have focussed on the fishing fleet, while this one focuses on the fish farmers. Both groups are relatively small and spread along the coast. Capture-based aquaculture mostly involves feeding the cod, but it is also common to store larger cod without feeding them.
In addition to the mapping, a profitability model of the activity has also been developed. This is based to a large extent on information from the industry. The fish farmers deserve praise for being open and sharing information they have generated through several years of operation.
The crew’s knowledge makes the difference
The results show great variation. They also show that knowledge and experience are important for operation of the fish farm. Right from delivery of the fish from the fishing boat it is possible to see differences in quality and survival rates between the vessels. This can probably be attributed to equipment, season and weather, but the most important is the crew’s knowledge and ability to sort out fish with injuries.
Some of the cod do not adapt to life as a farmed fish and will not eat the food that is offered – herring and capelin. The proportion of "losers" is an important profitability parameter which the fish farmers did not have adequate data about. Trials indicate that this is around 20 %. The fish grow relatively well when they receive optimal handling. The growth model operates on a doubling of weight in approximately six months. This is equivalent to models developed for hatchery raised cod. Mortality is relatively low, approximately 5 % if loss is avoided. Such loss can be derived from escaping and seal attacks, which some have been exposed to.
Seasonal variations must be taken advantage of
The largest costs are linked to the purchase of fish, feed and slaughtering/packing. Sales revenues are reliant on taking advantage of seasonal variations in price for fresh fish and fillet. Prices in autumn for instance are far higher than during the fishing in April. Overall this model provides good profitability, with an estimated result of NOK 2.8/kg gutted fish and a net amount of NOK 9.5 million as of today.
These results are influenced strongly, especially by changes in the landed price and sales prices. If the sales price drops as little as 7 % the profitability disappears. This also means that profitability will be extremely good if through good marketing work higher prices than anticipated can be attained.
This project is financed by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF). The Project Manager has been Scientist Øystein Hermansen, with contributions from scientists affiliated with Nofima’s National Centre for Capture-based Aquaculture.