has 90,000 square kilometres of sea within its sea baseline. This area for potential food production is the same size as the total agricultural area of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark - or equal to the agricultural area of Italy.
Norwegian fish farmers
have an ethical and legal responsibility for the welfare of their salmon. Operations are strictly regulated for fish health, food safety and environmental reasons - for everyone licensed to farm fish.
All fish farms in farms in Norway have operational plans that are assessed by the Directorate of Fisheries and the Food Safety Authority. There are strict regulations governing the conditions and the location of the cages as they requires good water flow. During operations, the farmers are also obliged to carry out on-going monitoring of how operations affect the seabed.
When a production site is closed, all installations above and below water must be removed within six month.
Farming salmon is one of the most resource-efficient ways of animal farming for food. 1.15 kg of feed produces 1 kg of salmon, and this feed comes from 2 to 2.5 kg wild fish. In comparison, a salmon in the wild needs to eat 10 kg food to grow 1 kg.
Photo: Johan Wildhagen
Read the story of our Salmon from Hatching to Cooking
A typical fish farm consists of between six and ten cages, holding 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of fish. The cage consists of a buoyancy element on the surface and a net bag in which the fish swim. A typical net bag is between 20 to 50 metres deep, about the
same length as a normal short course swimming pool to an Olympic size long course swimming pool. The diameter of a typical net cage is around 50 metres, as long as an Olympic size long course swimming pool. The largest net cages have a circumference
of 200 metres.
The salmon are kept in the fjords for 14-22 months. When the fish weighs 4-6 kg, it is ready for processing. The salmon are taken by well boat to the fish-processing facility.
The whole salmon farming process begins on shore in an incubator tray, and as for wild salmon, the roe is fertilised in fresh water. The roe hatches after approximately 60 days in water kept at 8 °C.
After hatching, salmon alevins have a yolk sac on their stomach from which they draw nourishment, and they are therefore known as yolk sac fry. Four to six weeks after hatching, the alevins begin to eat feed and can now be moved to larger freshwater tanks.
Since hatching, the fish have undergone major changes in a process called smoltification. These changes are necessary if the salmon are to be able to live in seawater. The salmon are now known as smolt.
After 10-16 months in freshwater they still do not weigh more than 60–100 g., but the salmon are ready to be moved to net pens in the sea for on-growing and maturation into adult salmon.
Ice cold salmon
Salmons are delivered to the processing facility on ice.
Quality evaluations are performed during unloading, which include monitoring the temperature and condition of the fish. Fish found unacceptable are rejected.
In order to reduce any bacterial processes, the salmons are immediately de-headed. Head, tails, fins and eggs are removed.
After gutting the salmon it is washed and chilled in order to inhibit any unfavorable enzymatic and microbiological processes. Each fish is evaluated by trained staff for any discrepancy in physical characteristics, and any found unacceptable is rejected.
A main goal of fish processing is high product quality and extended shelf life.
Fish processing must always ensure full health safety of fish products and proper sanitary conditions. High quality products which are safe and satisfy the consumer are reached by compliance with processing parameters, from the start of the operation to the distribution of the final product.
Preliminary processing of salmon usually consists of the following steps or unit processes: Evisceration, de-heading, scaling, cutting of fins and belly flaps, slicing of whole fish into steaks, filleting, skinning, grinding of skinned fillets and different combinations of the above.
Another aspect of salmon processing is to give the product a form which is attractive to the consumer, e.g., de-headed fish with fins removed, skinless fillet, cut-out portions, steaks, etc.
The fillet which is a piece of meat consisting of the dorsal and abdominal muscles is the most sought-after fish product in the retail market.
Storage and preservation
Fresh fish can be stored only for the short time that processing technologies allow for the storage life of fish to be extended without significant loss of quality.
If fish is not sold fresh, preservations methods will be applied in order to extend shelf life. These could include freezing, smoking, curing (salt), heat treatment (sterilization, pasteurization, etc.).
No waste material
Appropriate processing should enable maximal use of raw material and thus contribute to increased economic profitability. This is a basic approach in modern industry. A filleting operation offers a classic example of such an approach in which, apart from the fillets, minced meat can be produced from the waste material. Thus the process results in practically no unused waste material.
How to add value to the product
Theoretically all processes applied to the raw salmon can be considered as product added values. In regular terms value are added to salmons when they are cut in a special way (e.g. portions), as steaks or fillets.
Value in presentation are also essential – e.g. salmon with shiny skin on one side, thin slices for sushi or as cubes on grill-sticks.