New Type of Fish Farming to Begin in Iceland Skip to content

New Type of Fish Farming to Begin in Iceland

By Iceland Review

Warm water fish farming of tilapia fish is set to begin at Flúdir in south Iceland. The fish is a popular food around the world and is sometimes called “the chicken of the sea.” The fish feeds on grain and grows very quickly. The project could create a number of new jobs.

From Flúdir. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

Tilapia fish (beitarfiskur in Icelandic) is a white-flesh fish which doesn’t have a strong flavor and is therefore suitable for all kinds of dishes. It is the largest fish farming species in the world, with millions of tons sold in markets. The most extensive breeders are in China, Fréttabladid reports.

Hrunamannahreppur municipality, the company Íslensk matorka and Matís (Icelandic Food and Biotech R&D) signed a declaration of intent last week on launching warm water fish farming at Flúdir, which is part of the development of energy-intensive food production in the area.

Stefanía Katrín Karlsdóttir, representative of Íslensk matorka, said tilapia breeding offers extensive opportunities. They are interested in working with domestic grain farmers on producing fodder for the fish.

“The fodder that is already on the market is expensive and produced for salmonids,” Karlsdóttir said. “Rapeseed is being cultivated with good results and in Árnessýsla [county], protein-rich beans are being grown which we could use.”

The fish needs fodder with a high percentage of protein and carbohydrates and therefore various grains are suitable.

The fish is bred in warm water of which Flúdir has plenty. “At Flúdir they drilled for cold water but lukewarm water came up because the stratums heat it up. The temperature of the water is perfect for tilapia farming,” Karlsdóttir said.

Tilapia also grows much faster than other fish species that are bred for markets; it can be harvested after six months. For comparison, char isn’t harvested until after 27 months and cod after four years. Tilapia competes with cod at markets.

Matís has conducted testing of the taste of the fish, storage capability and fodder. Karlsdóttir said the fish can easily be delivered fresh to European markets, which is where Iceland has an advantage over China, the largest breeder.

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