Salmon farming pioneers

Ocean-farmed salmon, invented in Norway in the early 1970s, is a relatively modern creation by our own standards.

Our seafaring and fishing traditions date back thousands of years. The passion and knowledge our people have built up over generations gave us the foundation to innovate and begin farming the ocean.

To understand how ocean-farmed salmon became the booming industry that it is today, we need to look at the pioneers who paved the way.

There are now several hundred salmon farms along our coastline, where the cold temperature and steady sea currents provide the best living conditions for the fish to thrive.

These are the brave men and women who (in the shadow of the first Norwegian oil rigs) created a second industrial fairytale: Norwegian aquaculture.

The beginning

In 1959, Danish freshwater farms devoted to growing small rainbow trout inspired brothers Karsten and Olav Vik, an architect and a gardener respectively, to try their hand at a farm of their own.

The two farmed their rainbow trout in floating wooden crates and found that the fish could be gradually acclimated to seawater.

The next generation

A generation later, in 1962, Professor Harald Skjervold at the Norwegian Agricultural University established a breeding station.

He was granted permission to catch breeding salmon from 41 different rivers and set up Norway’s first salmon breeding program.

School of salmon in cage seen from underneath
8 ocean farm cages in front of snow covered mountains

Skjervold and another scholar, Professor Trygve Gjedrem gave Norway its reputation for cultivating the world’s oldest and most refined breeding material for salmon and trout.

The first documented salmon farm was built on the island of Hitra in 1970. The breakthrough came when Ove and Sivert Grøntvedt set out octagonal cages containing 20,000 salmon smolt in Laksåvika on the island.

Hitra is now seen as the world’s first successful salmon fish farm. That year the Grøntvedt brothers made a profit from their farm and the modern day industry was born.

To date, salmon farming generates 33,700 Norwegian jobs and delivers fish to 140 countries for 14 million meals every day.

Today

Aquaculture methods in Norway have developed at a rapid pace over the nearly 40 years since large-scale farming began.

To become the world leader in aquaculture, we have created a framework that combines strict health regulations, close safety monitoring and continuous work to develop the industry.

3 workers outside looking at content of ocean farm cage
Workers at conveyor preparing salmon fillets

Our biggest asset still remains our excellent natural conditions. Norway’s vast sea areas and more than 51,500 miles of coastline mean that we can farm our salmon all year round in our cold, crystal-clear protected waters.

To date, salmon farming generates 33,700 Norwegian jobs, fish delivered to 140 countries around the world and 14 million meals per day.

We can only do all this because our industry, government and science sector all work together. Our industry also has a long history at the heart of our community – aquaculture supports lots of businesses that are the cornerstones of many coastal communities.

And it all started in 1959, with two pioneering brothers.

The salmon industry today

33,700

Norwegian jobs

140

Countries around the world

14

Million meals per day

The future

We also see aquaculture as a way to help meet a real challenge facing the world today: to produce enough healthy food for a rapidly growing population and ensure there will be enough seafood to meet that demand in the years to come.

In fact, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation agrees that aquaculture holds a crucial role in meeting the world’s demand for seafood. Today, the Norwegian aquaculture industry ranks among the world’s leading programmes.

Salmon snapshot

1959

The first Danish freshwater farm is set up by Karsten and Olav Vik, an architect and a gardener.

1962

Professor Harald Skjervold established a breeding station for rainbow trout in Romerike County.

1970

The first documented salmon farm was built on the island of Hitra.

1972

First salmon exported

1985

First salmon consumed raw

2010

1 million Salmon exported to China