AKVA group is actively engaged in the installation of Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) for Laxey (formerly I.L.F.S) in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland. This installation enables Laxey to have a ready supply of smolt for their upcoming Grow-out phase. Laxey's recent securing of 42 million euros in financing underscores the significance of this project.
The company, previously known as Icelandic Land Farmed Salmon (ILFS), unveiled this financial development in an official announcement on 14 September.
Laxey is steadfastly moving forward with its ambitious expansion plans, which include the completion of a smolt RAS by AKVA group set to begin operations by the end of 2023 and a state-of-the-art grow-out facility slated for production commencement in 2024.
A 3D picture of the Grow-out project. Photo: Laxey.
By 2031, Laxey aims to achieve an impressive production target of 27,000 metric tons HOG (head on gutted) of farmed Atlantic Salmon. To put this into perspective, the current Icelandic land-based salmon production stands at less than 2,000 tons.
The initial operational phase is on track to commence by mid-2024, with the first sales expected to materialize by late 2025.
The ground work at the Grow-out site has begun. Photo: Laxey.
Establishing Iceland's pioneering RAS smolt facility
The story began with signing a contract between AKVA group and Icelandic Land Farmed Salmon (now Laxey) in 2022. This contract set in motion the installation of a groundbreaking smolt RAS facility in Vestmannaeyjar, marking a milestone as the first of its kind in Iceland—a true RAS facility. This is one of the most advanced hatcheries in the world for salmon smolt. Loaded with the latest technology available and highest water reuse.
CTO of Laxey, Hallgrímur Halli Steinsson, reflects on the journey so far: "We are currently approaching the midpoint of our collaboration with AKVA group, and the process has been incredibly smooth. It all began with an initial design phase where AKVA group collaborated closely with our team to model and design every aspect. Subsequently, we progressed to on-site installations. The partnership has proven to be an excellent fit. AKVA group has a lot of know-how and experience building these installations, and our own construction team has been doing a great job keeping the schedule.”
The egg incubation of the Smolt station is about ready. Photo: Laxey.
Pioneering sustainable salmon farming in Iceland
Laxey's story is deeply intertwined with the unique opportunities that Icelandic waters offer for salmon farming. Some areas feature water conditions that are too cold for efficient and safe production, with limited availability of licenses for sea-based fish production. Consequently, Icelandic fish farmers, like Laxey, are increasingly turning their focus to land-based salmon farming. This shift is driven by the availability of suitable locations with pristine seawater and favorable stable temperatures year-round.
Laxey's primary markets span Europe and North America. Upon the successful completion of the smolt RAS and the Vestmannaeyjar grow-out project, they plan to produce an impressive 13,500 tons HOG of Atlantic Salmon annually in the first production phase. For the second phase, they are ambitious, aiming to double this production capacity. In total 27.000 tons HOG in six, equal in size, sections.
The construction of the Smolt RAS is well under way. Photo: Laxey.
Self-sufficient in smolt-supply
Vestmannaeyjar, the southernmost community in Iceland, is home to Laxey's pioneering efforts. Among the islands in this archipelago, the main island, Heimaey, stands as the hub of activity. Laxey's fish farming facility is not only creating jobs but also revitalizing the local economy in an area with a population of only 4,500.
Lárus Sigurður Ásgeirsson, Chairman of the board of Laxey, emphasizes the significance of this endeavor: "This is an exciting project because it makes us self-sufficient in smolt supply for our coming land-based grow-out project, thereby giving us full control of our own value chain."
Heimaey's role in sustainable salmon farming
Heimaey's unique geographical characteristics make it an ideal location for land-based salmon grow-out. Access to land, infrastructure, efficient logistics to markets, and strong community support form the foundation of this success story. The volcanic terrain of Heimaey, including its lava sand, serves as a natural filter, ensuring crystal-clear seawater. This natural filtration removes all pathogens before water enters the grow-out farm. Moreover, the warm water is consistently at an ideal temperature, facilitating a sustainable production process.
Ásgeirsson concludes, "Our goal is to produce superior quality salmon in the most sustainable environment possible."
AKVA group's involvement in Laxey's journey stems from a shared vision of sustainability and innovation. A key point of excitement was AKVA group's "Zero Water Concept," which is integral to the smolt production process.
“It allows us to build a RAS facility on an island with limited access to fresh water. We chose AKVA group because of their track record and experienced people,” says Ásgeirsson.