The idea for the doughnut-shaped fish farm came in 2015. Now SalMar and Bluegreen have signed a contract to take over the development permits and build the first Marine Donut. This will become the world's largest construction in thermoplastics.
In 2019 Mowi was awarded two development permits by the Directorate of Fisheries. For various reasons, the project was never realized, and in June it was announced that Bluegreen bought the permits from Mowi. Now they are pleased to announce that SalMar is taking responsibility for carrying out the development concession project and has entered into a contract for the construction of the first Marine Donut.
SalMar is an innovative and ambitious partner
Nils-Johan Tufte, CEO of Bluegreen, is pleased that the innovation is finally coming to fruition, and says that he could not have had a better partner than SalMar:
“SalMar is innovative and ambitious. They are not afraid to explore new technology that solves the challenges facing the industry. We are impressed by their investment in off-shore farming, and we hope that Marine Donut can play a role in this.”
Roger Bekken, COO Farming in SalMar, says this about the venture:
“We have entered into this agreement with Bluegreen because they are forward-looking with a highly skilled and experienced organisation. SalMar has always been innovative and is therefore interested in using new technology to increase the production of healthy food. Marine Donut is an exciting concept and we look forward to developing the concept further together with the supplier.”
Construction already in full swing
On the construction site of Bluegreen in Telemark, Norway, the construction of Marine Donut is already in full swing. The aim is for it to be completed and transported to Molde during the winter/spring of 2023. As soon as it is installed and tested, the development concession project will be carried out in line with the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries' commitments and criteria.
The breeding facility will be the world's largest thermoplastic construction, and will have a diameter of a whopping 60 metres, a volume of 22,000 cubic meters and weigh just under 500 tonnes.
Project manager Geir Andresen, partner in Bluegreen, admits that it is challenging to build such a large construction in thermoplastics, but that no one is better equipped to do it than Bluegreen:
“Bluegreen has a turnkey contract for the project. It is a big responsibility, but I dare say that no one in the world is more competent for this job than us. Our people have already built closed containment facilities such as FishGlobe and Preline, and thus have bring valuable experience.”
“This is groundbreaking work. We establish the shipyard facility, auxiliary structures and the main structure, at the same time! Fortunately, we took the chance to order in critical production machines in the early phase, now several of these have extremely long delivery times,” says Andresen, and adds that they have also developed a very special welding machine for this assignment.
Customers and partners contribute
On the team, Bluegreen has important subcontractors within the various specialist areas. Not least, the customer SalMar, one of the world's largest fish farmers, contributes with enormous experience and expertise that benefits the project:
“We have learned an incredible amount since we started talking to SalMar. They have had valuable input that has improved the project, especially in terms of functionality and risk assessment from the user's perspective”, says Tufte, and adds: “We feel the energy from both SalMar and partners. Everyone has the attitude: This is something we will achieve together!”
Eliminates the lice problem and provides increased profitability
Marine Donut is a flow-through plant with sludge collection. The facility holds 1,100 tonnes of MBT. According to the development concessions, fish are to be introduced in two different cycles, from approx. 2.5 to 5.5 kg, but the facility will also probably work excellently for post-smolt production.
The system has a water intake below the lice belt and the closed membrane prevents escape. The Donut is packed with digitization and sensors.
“By eliminating the lice problem, the traffic light system should be able to be utilized positively,” says Tufte. “We hope that there will be a new licensing regime specifically aimed at the type of technology that Marine Donut represents, so that the concept can contribute to achieving the growth ambition that Norway has set within the farming industry.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that despite the fact that the Donut has a higher capex than traditional cages, the costs per kg of fish are competitive. The costs of feed and medicine go down, fish health and fish quality go up. In addition, the facility provides smarter logistics for the breeder. Overall, this results in increased profitability.”
A dream come true
For Tufte, this is a dream come true.
“It’s seven years since I drew the first sketches of the Donut, and eventually took out a patent. There have been ups and downs but I never lost faith. Now I reap the rewards of my persistence! By teaming up with SalMar, we have every opportunity to unleash the full potential that resides in the concept.”
Tufte was recently at North America's largest aquaculture fair in Canada. He can tell that there was enormous interest in Marine Donut also "across the pond".
“The response was overwhelming, both from the industry and the media. We are now starting a parallel process in Newfoundland in the wake of the Norwegian project. In North America there are bigger waves and tidal differences, so the concept has to be modified to the local conditions.
“But we will make it happen!” concludes Tufte, and smiles broadly.