Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Evaluation of Norwegian Technology for Offshore Farming in Hainan, China

Kjell Ø. Midling, Xing H. Mao, Zhaojui Zhang


The Norwegian methods of production of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. are probably the most efficient example of fish production in the world. During the past three decades, the salmon industry in Norway has met and solved several challenges, and its growth today is restricted by only market limitations (i.e., quotas on feed in agreement with the European Union). Norwegian aquaculture is still a monoculture industry because output of the newly introduced marine species has not yet reached 1,000 tons.

The reasons for the growth in the salmon industry are many, and not all of them can be transferred to other nations, species, and markets. The waters near the Norwegian coastline are deep and sheltered, and the water quality is good. The 850 farms are scattered along the coast, and if future conflicts with other interests (e.g., environmental issues, fishermen, and pollution) are solved, then space should not be a limiting factor for growth. The population of only 4.5 million is likewise scattered along the coast, ensuring skilled labor as well as good logistics. The genetic salmon pool was originally sampled from 50 rivers along the coast and has since been developed through a breeding program, selecting for rapid growth, late maturation, and good coloration and disease resistance.

The cost of labor in Norway is high. During the past 30 years, progress has been steady toward making the aquaculture industry more automatic and technologically advanced. Farms have moved to more exposed areas, and the technology for farming has become stronger. This development includes boats, floaters, net, antifouling preparations, and moorings as well as automatic feeding and remote equipment for monitoring growth and feed conversion rate.

During the 1980s, the growing salmon industry was twice hit by epidemic outbreaks of bacterial disease, first by coldwater vibriosis caused by the cosmopolite genus Vibrio salmonicida, then by furuncolosis Aeromonas salmonicidae. In both events, vaccines were developed, and now all 150 million smolts produced annually are injected with the vaccines. The use of antibiotics mirrors this development, and during the past 8 years, the use has fallen close to zero (Figure 1). Compared with other intensive protein producers (poultry, pigs), salmon production only uses 5% of their values measured as antibiotics per tons produced.