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Norway Part I

This year has been one of the most active for me since I entered the aquaculture industry eight years ago. We have added more staff, started a new consulting division headed up by Dr. John Bonardelli, and have expanded operations into Europe.
Our focus on working with the industry in North and South America, Oceania, and Asia had allowed us, up to now, to observe the European aquaculture sector only by way of industry associates or media, either in electronic or print format. One of the more interesting parts of our work is visiting farms and growers as we travel, and comparing notes on the differences in grow out methods that we have seen. Each visit gives us new references on how to improve husbandry methods or in many cases offer technology information to our hosts. As a number of people in the industry have commented, having us visit them is like having years of focused travel and observation packed into one or two days.
The size of European production and consumption of shellfish dwarfs North American by comparison, and there is much to learn, both good and not so good, about what is taking place across the Atlantic. In this and future columns, I will share more of the findings of our trips to Norway and to the Netherlands.
John and I were first invited to Norway, through our consulting group, by a development company in Finnsness, 400km above the Arctic Circle. The visit took place in February 2001, a time when we are in the middle of winter at our homes and offices in central Canada, and rather used to the cold and snow of the four seasons climate we live in only two hours north of the US border. Still, we are very south of where we visited. To be more exact, our offices are close to the 45th parallel, while we were visiting the 78th parallel of latitude.
Our director of European Operations, Terje Steinsund, had arranged our visitation with the Development Company primarily because Norway had recently announced that it had set an objective of taking its mussel industry from 1,000 tonnes per year production to 100,000 tonnes per year within an 8-10 year time frame. I applauded the government of Norway for setting this goal, as I found out a long time ago that once you set a target or goal, it is a whole lot easier to reach it collectively, rather than just hoping that your production increases. I have no problem stating, and many others in the industry would agree, that if we would nationally set objectives in North America by working as a team towards that goal, we would collectively guarantee a greater level of success.
The purpose of our trip was to examine current husbandry practices Norway longlines and compare them to best management practices seen around the world, so as to advance towards the set objectives. As well, we were asked to discuss with a group of salmon growers the potential of polyculture applications for salmon and mussel production.
Polyculture is an area that John and I have been working on for a while now, and there is more happening than you might think. The format - from biological, environmental, production, processing and distribution considerations - makes a lot of sense. I will discuss more on polyculture in future columns.
Being out on the ocean so far north in this area of the world is not what most people would expect. The effect of the Gulf Current, which passes northward along the North American coast and then flows below Greenland and Iceland towards northern Europe, is in itself a wonder of nature. Average winter ocean temperatures were in the area of 4-5 degree celsius range, with summer temperatures in the mid-teens. Perfect for growing salmon, these conditions, combined with knowledge and attitude, have positioned Norway as the world's largest salmon producer.
We observed in Norway, as we do in a lot of visits, a variety of husbandry methods from different areas. Some have good outcomes, while others are not so efficient. longlines across a bay The most popular method we observed is an adaptation of a longline system with origins in Sweden. The configuration of the system resembles a grid-like series of parallel longlines which are made up of a special twisted polyethylene and stainless wire rope. These high strength, low elongation lines are held apart between rigid replast bars, and the ends of the system are independently anchored by very large single plow anchors, or tied to shore. The back lines are usually two meters apart; some may contain up to ten parallel lines that span approximately two hundred meters in length or more. Therefore, a typical grid of two hundred meters by twenty meters would have 2000 meters of usable longline. floats System configurations can also be ganged together in series, dependent on the site location. In one case we saw a series of grids that were almost one kilometer long. Long lines are buoyed according to the weight on them and adding buoyancy is relatively easy. Suspended from the longlines are continuous substrates of 4" wide woven tape that acts as both a collector and primary grow out substrate.
Deployment and harvest are usually done from converted fish boats or specially built barges that have a harvest conveyor/stripper mounted on the stern of the boat.
harvesting in Norway
This method of husbandry is relatively efficient from a handling and mechanization process, however, from an animal management perspective, it has a number of downfalls. The technique falls into the group used by producers who grow mussels for volume, as opposed to a management strategy that produces mussels for maximum profitability.
We have seen similar challenges at other locations that we have observed, however none were quite as pronounced as they were here.

Contact Don Bishop at:
Fukui North America
PO Box 669
110-B Bonnechere St.W.
Eganville, Ontario K0J 1T0
**NEW**Tel: 613-559-0075 or 613-628-5266
**NEW**Fax: 613-432-9494
Email: kate@fukuina.com or don@bishopaquatic.com

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