In CtrlAQUA, Khurram Shahzad uses computational fluid dynamics for modelling and simulation to investigate how water currents behave in small and large tanks. Photo: Terje Aamodt/Nofima.


Centre for Research-Based Innovation in Closed-Containment Aquaculture

 Fish health    Nutrition and feed technology    Production biology  

CtrlAQUA is a Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) that will lay the foundation for the development of closed-containment concepts of the future. With greater control of the production process, it will be possible to reduce problems associated with mortality and sea lice, and to reduce the production time for farmed salmon.

Time:1. April 2015 – 31. March 2023
Financed by: The Research Council of Norway (50%) and Partners (50%)
Commissioner:The Research Council of Norway
In cooperation with:R&D: NORCE, the University of Bergen, NTNU, the University of South-Eeastern Norway, Freshwater Institute (USA), Gøteborg Universitet (Sweden). Industry partners: Krüger Kaldnes AS, Pharmaq Analytiq AS, Pharmaq AS, FISHGlobe AS, FiiZK, Aquafarm Equipment AS, Mowi ASA, Grieg Seafood ASA, Lerøy Seafood Group ASA, Cermaq Norway AS, Bremnes Seashore AS, Nekton AS.
Contact person
Portrettbilde av Åsa Maria O. Espmark
Åsa Maria O. Espmark

Senior Scientist
Phone: +47 991 60 039

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Kasper Thøring Juul-Dam
Kasper Thøring Juul-Dam

Adm. Coordinator
Phone: +47 64 97 01 50

There are challenges that may hinder sustainable growth in salmon aquaculture, such as sea lice, diseases, escapes, and the loss of fish through production. Innovations in closed-containment aquaculture systems, where the salmon is separated from the outside environment by a tight barrier, is important for further development of aquaculture.

CtrlAQUA work on such closed-containment systems. The main goal is to develop technological and biological innovations that will make closed systems a reliable and economically viable technology. Closed systems can be land-based where water is recycled, or sea-based, in which large floating tanks receive clean water from depth. In CtrlAQUA the research deals with both approaches.

Post-smolt stage in focus

Focus lies on the most sensitive phases for the salmon in the production cycle, such as the first seawater phase, the so-called post-smolt stage. The main innovation will be reliable and efficient production of post-smolts in closed systems on land or at sea. Thus, the industry can get a good realistic alternative or supplement to the current production technology with open cages.

The centre also contributes to better production control, fish welfare and sustainability in closed-containment farms. This happens through development of new and reliable sensors, minimizing environmental impact through recycling of nutrients and reduce the risk of escape, and diseases transmission to wild stocks.

These innovations will be of value to the Norwegian society, since closed systems for strategic phases in salmon farming can lead to increased value creation from aquaculture, increased number of jobs and production of healthy seafood.

SFI_engelskSenior Scientist Åsa Espmark from Nofima at Sunndalsøra is director of CtrlAQUA. In the centre there are three departments:

  • Technology and environment, lead by Jelena Kolarevic, Nofima
  • Preventative fish health, lead by Lill-Heidi Johansen, Nofima
  • Fish production and welfare, lead by Tom Ole Nilsen, the University of Bergen

The University of Bergen has the principal responsibility for research education at the centre. The total budget for CtrlAQUA is NOK 199 million, spread over eight years.

Focused research for the aquaculture industry

Nofima AS is the host institution, and is collaborating with research partners NORCE, the University of Bergen, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University of South-Eastern Norway. Research partners from outside of Norway are The Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute, USA and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Industrial partners from the supplier industry are Krüger Kaldnes AS, Pharmaq Analytiq, Pharmaq AS, CreateView, Atlantium, FishGLOBE AS, FiiZK and Aquafarm Equipment AS.

Participants from the aquaculture industry are Mowi ASA, Grieg Seafood ASA, Lerøy Seafood Group AS, Cermaq Norway AS, Bremnes Seashore AS and Nekton.


With CtrlAQUA, Nofima is boosting its commitment to further develop knowledge for closed containment aquaculture. Nofima has unique facilities for doing research in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS). Take a look at what makes Nofima’s research relevant in future aquaculture industry:   

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