Switzerland imports about 98 percent of the fish it consumes. This happens by land or air, significantly increasing the carbon footprint of seafood consumption in the country.
Swiss Blue Salmon and Billund Aquaculture recently entered into a strategic partnership to build the world’s smartest RAS farm in the Glarus county, which could replace up to 8% of the salmon imported into the country.
Smart fish farming
This innovative land-based salmon farm will feature the use of state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and state-of-the-art technologies including AI, machine learning, cloud solutions, digitization and automation .
Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood for people around the world. Globally, aquaculture production must double by 2030 to keep pace with demand. These increases in demand for aquaculture products, food security considerations and job creation have generated an increased need for skilled workers.
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Sune Moeller, CTO at Swiss Blue Salmon, even described it as an innovation wheel. “From the fish farmer’s perspective, we create a lot of data which is uploaded to a cloud-based platform and from there we can share all the raw data with strategic partners like Billund. In turn, Billund will be able to analyze this data and come up with new ideas and solutions, to ensure that both remain at the forefront of their industries.”
Swiss Blue Salmon founder and CEO Rudolf Ryf said one of his original motivations for starting the company was to address the seafood trade deficit in Switzerland, where almost all fish is imported. “We have good quality water sources in the country and I see an opportunity to develop a Swiss aquaculture industry and reduce import levels by 98%,” he said.
The company also plans to offer guided tours for nearby communities to a viewing platform within the facility. “We want to be as open and transparent as possible. Adults and children can come and visit our facility to learn about the process of farming salmon on land. This way we can show them the high levels of animal welfare and hygiene standards we need to achieve to deliver a first class product,” said Ryf. In addition, the Swiss firm wishes to strengthen ties with local universities, contribute to the creation of knowledge and the hiring of specialists for this project and its future agricultural operation.
Additionally, Moeller added that by producing locally, “it gives us a unique opportunity to sell sushi-quality fish to local Swiss restaurants, who will be able to serve fish to their customers just hours after they are harvested from the farm.”
In terms of sustainability, the company focuses on low energy consumption, recycling secondary streams from processing, reducing transport and finally reducing food waste in stores, etc., due to a longer shelf life.
As Switzerland mainly depends on hydroelectricity, Swiss Blue Salmon uses green energy. However, the company also invests in several energy-saving technologies. Ryf said that “unlike many other farms, we are able to use passive cooling with lake water at 6-8°C, while an efficient heat recovery system will be used, in especially during the winter. Likewise, we aim to install solar panels on the roof, which will cover 15-25% of our energy consumption.
Moeller added that the sludge resulting from the production processes will either be turned into fertilizer or used locally in a biogas plant. “Furthermore, we want to use 100% of the fish, turning what would otherwise be considered waste into pharmaceutical grade products, food for human consumption or pet food,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bjarne Hald Olsen, COO and Director of Business and Development at Billund Aquaculture, said that “we are very pleased to enter into this strategic partnership with Swiss Blue Salmon. It represents a significant step forward towards creating a sustainable Swiss aquaculture industry,” he said.