Investor excitement over RAS reflected in growing interest for Miami workshop

  • Jason Huffman
  • October 19, 2018

When it comes to the recent enthusiasm around land-based salmon production, Norwegian seafood analyst Tone Bjornstad Hanstad likes to quote Bill Gates.

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10,” the Microsoft co-founder and former CEO said in his late 1995 book, adding: “Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

Gates was writing then about the implications of the personal computing revolution and the arrival of the internet, which was just beginning to explode. He wasn’t wrong.

Hanstad, an equity research analyst with DNB Markets, in Oslo, is one of the 30 presenters to be featured at the Conservation Fund’s Aquaculture Innovation Workshop, in Miami, Florida, Dec. 4-6. More than 200 attendees are expected at the conference, the 10th time the event has been organized. Monday is the last day to save $150 on registration.

White sand covers the area where Atlantic Sapphire's hatchery will be installed. Photo by Jason Huffman.

Organizer Brian Vinci, director of the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute, said the number of registrations for the upcoming event is the highest it’s been and he’s also receiving calls weekly from personal wealth management offices with large dollar portfolios that want to know where they can gather more information about the industry or which land-based fish producers are the best to put their money in. Several of those callers have signed up to attend the event in Miami, he said.

Those are two more signs that the recirculating aquaculture system market has gained significant momentum recently in North America. The more evident sign of how hot RAS is, of course, is the simultaneous construction of three large land-based salmon facilities on the East Coast of the United States, including Atlantic Sapphire, in Homestead, Florida; Whole Oceans, in Bucksport, Maine; and Nordic Aquafarms, in Belfast, Maine.

Combined, the three facilities have set goals of growing and harvesting, in just a few years, more than a quarter of the 400,000t of Atlantic salmon consumed annually in the US, though that number is expected to increase as Americans are also growing their appetite for salmon.

Both Johan Andreassen, the CEO of Atlantic Sapphire, and Rob Piasio, the CEO of Whole Oceans, will be among the presenters expected to give updates on RAS construction efforts at the event. Andreassen's Norwegian-owned company started trading on the Oslo, Norway, stock exchange in May under the ticker symbol ASA-ME. 

A field trip to the Atlantic Sapphire construction site is planned for the last day of the workshop.

Other presenters include celebrity chef and author Barton Seaver, Kingfish Zeeland COO Kees Kloet, Skretting Aquaculture Research managing director Alex Obach, Ideal Fish president and CEO Eric Pedersen, and Whole Foods Market’s seafood quality standards coordinator Carrie Brownstein. Frode Mathison, Grieg Seafood’s director of freshwater production and chairman of the board at CtrlAqua, will be a dinner speaker.

Hanstad is slated to precede Monica Jain, the founder of Fish 2.0, in consecutive sessions on financing and investing in land-based RAS projects at the workshop in Miami.

An increasing number of projects and capacity

“When we looked at the number of land-based projects and identified planned capacity two years ago we found 20 projects and roughly [150,000 metric tons] of planned capacity,” she told Undercurrent. “The number of projects identified has increased to 30, while the planned capacity has more than doubled.”.

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Tags: Global Aquaculture 2018 Competition US Aquaculture

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