ABOUT SAMHERJI FISHFARMING THE QUEST FOR QUALITY - Arctic Char
Samherji’s aquaculture is comprised of most aspects of fish farming, i.e. hatching, juvenile production, the on-growing of marketable fish, harvesting, packaging and marketing of the products.
The various fish farming operations are situated around Iceland. Samherji operates one broodstock farm, one hatchery, three nurseries and tree ongrowing farms. The company also operates two processing plants, one in Öxarfjordur on the east coast and the other in Sandgerdi on the Reykjanes peninsula. All of the farms are land-based and use crystal clear geothermal water, fresh or brackish. The water has been naturally filtered through layers of lava and is pumped up from boreholes on site. In the year 2014 all of Samherji´s farm operations were merged into one company under the name „Íslandsbleikja ltd.“. In the year 2018 the name of the company was changed from Íslandsbleikja ltd to “Samherji fiskeldi ltd” The farms have all been audited and certified by IMO for Whole Foods Market in USA (since 2009).
One of the advantages of land-based farming is having control of the environment. Environmental factors such as oxygen levels, salinity, density and temperature are constantly monitored and adjusted to best fit the optimal living conditions of the fish at every stage. Feeding and oxygenation is automatic and computer controlled and can be monitored and controlled from anywhere. Another benefit of land-based farming is that it almost eliminates the risk of escapes.
High quality feed from Laxá Feed Mill Ltd. in Iceland is used in the production. Only during the first feeding stages, imported feed is used (BioMar and Scretting). The fish meal and fish oil that is used in the production of Laxá Feed Mill come from sustainable managed fish stocks in the Icelandic waters. Fish-oil and rapeseed-oil are used in the feed and marine protein is approx. 50% of the total protein content. No other protein sources from the animal kingdom are used and no drugs are ever added to the feed. Only natural pigments are used in the feed (Aquasta and Panaferd).Chemotherapeutic treatments are never used in Samherji´s farming but approved vaccines are used strategically as a part of the company’s biosecurity plan and all juveniles are vaccinated prior to transfer to the on-growing farms. As a part of the biosecurity plan, Samherji has a contract with a fish veterinarian (Fish Vet Group) who makes regular visits to all the farms. He is responsible for the overall health management of the fish and works closely with the company´s quality manager and the farm managers.
Samherji fiskeldi has specialized in the production of Arctic Charr (Salvelinus alpinus) from roe to finished product and is currently the world´s leading producer of Arctic Charr. Samherji runs a small broodstock facility in cooperation with the Hólar University and produces part of the roes needed in the production. Samherji also buys roes from Hólar University which has a well established breeding program for Arctic Charr that has been ongoing for over 25 years. The combined production capacity of Arctic Charr at Samherji´s on-growing farms is approximately 3000 tons per year and the plan is to increase that in the coming years.
Roes are hatched at Samherji´s hatchery at Núpar, using high quality, geothermal freshwater. After hatch, the alevins (0,1g) are transferred to the nurseries (Núpar, Öxnalækur or Staður) where the fish are reared up to 80-100g before they are transferred to the on-growing sites, Staður and Vatnsleysa in the Reykjanes peninsula. The Char is farmed at optimal conditions in high-quality brackish water until the fish have reached harvest size (800 – 1500g). At harvest, the fish is pumped from the tanks and transported live using a specially equipped truck, to Samherji´s state of the art processing plant for slaughtering and processing. During transport, the oxygen level of the water is controlled and closely monitored. Through the whole harvesting process, the welfare of the fish is the main priority. All methods used during the process are focused on preventing discomfort and distress in the fish and at the same time ensuring the quality of our finished products. In February 2018, the processing plant moved to new facilities conveniently located in Sandgerði very close to the on-growing farms and the international airport. Much has been invested in human resources and equipment that allows for the production of high quality fresh and frozen fillets, portions and whole fish, products that meet the highest standards of the market.
In these links below you can find more information on our finished Arctic Char products:
Samherji´s only Salmon farm is situated in the East of Iceland in Núpsmýri in Öxarfjörður (formerly named Silfurstjarnan). Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) roes are bought from Stofnfiskur which has years of experience in Salmon roe-production and a well established breeding program.
The roes are hatched and juveniles produced at Samherji´s hatchery/nursery in Núpar using high quality geothermal fresh water. Vaccinated juveniles (50-70g) are transported to Núpsmýri on-growing farm in the North East of Iceland, where the fish is grown to harvest size (3,5 – 4,0 kg). There are harvesting and primary processing facilities on site, where the fish is slaughtered, gutted and packed. All methods used during the harvesting process are focused on preventing discomfort and distress in the fish and at the same time ensuring the quality of the finished product.
The company produces about 1200 tons of Salmon per year. The site in Öxarfjörður is one of the largest land-based Salmon farms in the world and the company has plans to increase Salmon production significantly in the coming years. The farming conditions in Öxarfjörður are quite unique as there is high geothermal activity in the area and the Salmon can be farmed in brackish, crystal clear water at 10-11°C.
All of Samherji´s Salmon and Arctic Char products are sold through Ice Fresh Seafood, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samherji. Ice Fresh Seafood was founded on solid foundation and possesses great knowledge and contacts in markets all over the world.