We focus on each step of the value Chain from breeding to the grocery store. Salmon farming follows the same life cycles that occur in the wild. Eggs are harvested from broodstock fish and grown in fresh water to smolt size. Smolts are entered into sea water to grow to full size, when they are carefully harvested and processed, and shipped to customers worldwide.
Genetics and brood stock
Broodstock are fish specially selected to be the parents of the next generation of fish. We choose broodstock fish that are best suited for our farming conditions and we select for qualities such as strong fish health, fast growth and low early maturation. The best performing fish are chosen as broodstock.
Broodstock fish are raised for approximately 32 months and get a special diet for optimizing the production of eggs and milt (sperm).
The harvested eggs and milt are mixed and the fertilized eggs are sent to our hatcheries.
When we produce fertilized egg from our own broodstock we can also have complete traceability of our fish through their DNA.
Salmon spend the first part of their life in fresh water. The eggs are reared in trays which simulate the creek beds where salmon lay their eggs in the rivers. After hatching, the fish lives in tanks on land.
From egg to smolt, the fish spend about 14 months in a land-based hatchery. At the hatchery each fish is vaccinated by hand to resist the natural viruses and diseases found in the oceans before they are transferred to salt water.
During the incubation process the eggs are kept in dark. The trays are flooded with circulating fresh water.
When the eggs Hatch, alevins emerge, which are small fish with egg sacks Attached to their bellies to nourish themselves. Alevins stay in the trays until they “button up”, which is when the egg sack is gone and they are ready to eat feed.
The Fish are now called fry, and stay in tanks where they are fed a fine feed crumble. While they grow, they are sorted based on size and gradually introduced to pelleted feed.
When the fish are physiologically ready to enter salt water, they are called smolts. Depending on the location of the hatchery, smolts are transferred to sea sites by well boats or in tanks on trucks or boats.
After spending half their life in fresh water, the salmon spend the rest of their lives (18-24 months) in net pens which are securely anchored.
The fish are fed according to appetite and the farmers monitor feeding carefully to avoid any wastage. Growth, water quality and fish health status are checked continuously.
The location of sites follows strict governmental regulation and is based on favourable environmental conditions. Depending on the location, the farmers may also live on site during their working shift. The shape and size of pens vary between regions.
The nets are inspected by divers and also by ROVs to ensure that there are no holes, and the nets are of course checked if there are reasons for concern.
Sea lice levels are normally checked every week. A sample of fish are selected according to regulations and sea lice are counted. The stage of development for each louse is assessed.
The quality of the feed is important for the quality of the salmon. Cermaq has strict requirements for the quality and composition of the feed, and works closely with our feed suppliers.
The feed suppliers have improved the feed in many ways, e.g. by using more trimmings as raw materials and consequently reduced the dependency on forage fisheries.
At harvest, even at their largest (4-5.5 kg), the fish have plenty of room, taking up 2.5 % of the pen volume.
Harvest and distribution
The harvest process is quick and it takes only hours from the time the fish are harvested until they are on their way to the customer.
Before harvest, it is important to keep a strong focus on animal welfare, and avoid stressing the fish when the harvest date approaches. This helps ensure top product quality.
Fish may be brought live to the processing plant, or they may be prepared on site in a harvest boat. In both cases, they are quickly and humanely stunned and killed.
At the processing plant the fish are gutted, cleansed and washed, then graded by size and quality. Whole fish (head-on, gutted) are put in boxes and packed in ice to be sent to customers. Some of our regions also process value-added products, such as frozen portions and smoked salmon.
Major keys to product quality are an efficient harvesting process, quick cooling of harvested Fish and hygienic conditions. Cermaq conducts requent quality Control tests on harvesting plants to check temperatures and hygiene, the quality of ice, and the quality of fresh water. Cermaq also tests fish before and during harvest to make sure that the product we deliver meets the strictest standards for quality and food safety.
Certifications by third parties are assurances that we are farming salmon in a way that is responsible and sustainable. Our certifications are promises to our customers.
These neutral parties come and inspect every aspect of our business to make sure we keep up with the requirements of the highest standards.
Cermaq is certified according to some of the highest standards in the industry, including ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) and GlobalG.A.P. Cermaq also has management systems certified to ISO standards. Learn more about Cermaq's certifications .
Our sales offices supply salmon to more than 70 countries. Reaching the customers and consumer is the last step of our value chain.
The sales organizations in Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America supply the right quality to our customers’ needs from the three production regions Canada, Chile and Norway.