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Big effort in Norwegian halibut research

Halibut farmers and AKVAFORSK will revitalize halibut aquaculture with the kick off of a new collaborative research effort. The first phase of the project will focus on brood stock nutrition, and is so far funded with €300,000.
Big effort in Norwegian halibut research

May 20, 2011

Halibut farmers and AKVAFORSK will revitalize halibut aquaculture with the kick off of a new collaborative research effort. The first phase of the project will focus on brood stock nutrition, and is so far funded with €300,000.

Photo: Parts of the project group. From left: Ståle Gyldenås (Innovasjon Norway Møre og Romsdal), project leader Ingrid Lein (AKVAFORSK), Kurt Oterhals (Tustna Kveitefarm), and Ann Kristin Svendsen (leader of Møre og Romsdal Flat Fish Forum)
(Photo: NRK Møre og Romsdal-  Gunnar Sandvik)

The overall aim of the new project is to procure knowledge that will increase and stabilize the production of high quality halibut fry. Norwegian halibut research has long been characterized by many small, short and poorly coordinated projects. What makes this project unique is the close cooperation between halibut farmers and researchers, and the size of the funding. Innovation Norway and the halibut farmers themselves are financing this project. Project leader Dr. Ingrid Lein at AKVAFORSK is very pleased that they now have a real possibility to make a breakthrough in halibut fry production: - This research should provide large rewards to the halibut farmers who have worked hard to secure the funding and expand this aquaculture industry in Norway!

Halibut farmers claim that the nutritional needs of the brood stock often have been neglected in halibut research until now. The greatest limitation of halibut farming today is access to sufficient amounts of high quality eggs and the nutritional status of the parent fish is the basis for egg quality. Therefore, it is natural to suppose that much can be gained by investigating the nutritional needs of brood stock in order to improve fry quality. Today, there is no feed specially made for halibut brood stock, but results from this project will lay the basics for producing such a feed.

This project has evolved from The Flat Fish Forum in Møre and Romsdal, which is a professional arena for the halibut farmers in this county at the west coast of Norway. The forum was initiated by Innovation Norway two years ago, and has created a good cooperative climate between the halibut farmers. Almost half of the Norwegian fry-plants are in this county, but the production of halibut is still so low that they don’t look upon each other as competitors. Most of the Norwegian on-growing of Atlantic halibut is also carried out in this county.

Production of farmed halibut in Norway is slowly increasing, but last year the export was only 800 tonnes. - The plan is to increase this production considerably in the coming years. The common R&D effort in this project means a step in the right direction to reach this goal, Lein says finally.

The halibut farmers involved in this part of the project are: Brandal Havbruk AS, Fjord Halibut KS, Nordic Seafarms ASA, and Stolt Sea Farm AS.

Big effort in Norwegian halibut research
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