A wealthy Norwegian dot-com boss turned fish farming entrepreneur thinks he can transform the country’s famous fjords into cod hatcheries just as human consumption of farmed fish is set to exceed that of wild fish for the first time.
Harald Dahl has already convinced Morgan Stanley and J. P. Morgan Chase to back his new company, Codfarmers. His backers apparently believe Dahl can overcome outbreaks of disease and finicky eating habits that have thwarted previous efforts to farm the iconic fish.
Today’s Atlantic cod market is worth about $1 billion, a fraction of its value before frightfully irresponsible overfishing slashed the global annual take from 1.8 million tons to 137,000 tons in just 40 years.
Codfarmers believes Norway’s deep fjords will facilitate waste disposal and lower exposure to fecal pathogens, the main reason why farmed cod hadn’t thrived in the past. Codfarmers has also developed techniques that increase reproductive efficiency and reduce harvesting costs.
At the moment, hearty, omnivorous salmon is by far the most widely farmed fish. But farmed salmon is not as tasty and contains fewer beneficial omega-3 fats than wild salmon, so it sells at a discount.
The economics are reversed for cod. Wild cod spends days in the hull of a boat before reaching shore, so it is not as fresh as the farmed variety. It sells for 20% less than farmed cod.
“Salmon used to be the party fish. Now it’s become an everyday fish. We want to make cod the party fish,” Dahl told the Wall Street Journal.