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Port of Runavík Reports Record Number of Scheduled Cruise Calls

The Silver Whisper leaving Runavík (file photo). Image credits: Port of Runavík.

This year and the next, a record number of cruise ferries are reportedly scheduled to visit the Port of Runavík. Most of the vessels will be docking at the King’s Harbour in Runavík, while three of the smaller ones will anchor off the villages Elduvík and Funningur in the north of Eysturoy. Each of the cruise ships will have between 100 and 2,800 passengers on board plus an up to 1,100-strong crew, according to the Port of Runavík.

The largest of the ships, the 300-meter Nieuw Statendam, set to arrive at King’s Harbour in September this year with almost 4,000 passengers including crew and officers, is owned by Holland America Line.

With the number of calls for next year likely to increase in the weeks and months ahead, the Port of Runavík has already received as many bookings for 2024 as for this year, we’re told.

Three of the cruise ships calling at the Port of Runavík this summer are to be docking for two days.

Seaweed Farmer Ocean Rainforest Secures 6.2 Million USD in New Funding for Expansion

Ocean Rainforest seaweed farm, Faroe Islands. Image credits: Ocean Rainforest.

Seaweed farmer Ocean Rainforest, with origins in the Faroe Islands, has closed a Series-A investment round of 6.2 million USD, according to a news release. The funding “will enable further expansion of operations in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Pacific Rim, and accelerate product and market development,” a statement read.

Ocean Rainforest is a seaweed cultivation and processing company based in the Faroes as well as in California, USA. Since 2010, the company has developed a proven ‘first of its kind’ open-ocean cultivation system and has consistently remained suitable for real offshore conditions in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Today the company is among the largest commercial seaweed cultivators in Europe and has reportedly obtained the first-ever offshore seaweed cultivation permit in United States federal waters located offshore of Santa Barbara, CA.

According to the statement, the new investment funding allows Ocean Rainforest to scale up seaweed production to supply the functional food and feed markets leveraging existing company facilities in the Faroe Islands while also expanding its operations in California.

“We are excited about Ocean Rainforest’s capabilities to successfully grow seaweed in open ocean environments,” said Marc von Keitz, director at the Grantham Foundation. “This funding will significantly expand their production into off-shore waters and will be critical to meet growing market demand and to reach climate-relevant scale.”

The funding was led by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, who invested alongside Katapult Ocean’s Deep Blue fund, Builders Vision and the Ocean Born Foundation. Existing shareholders World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US), Norðoya Íløgufelag and Twynam Invest also participated in this Series A round, according to Ocean Rainforest.

“With limited environmental impacts and a low carbon footprint, seaweed absorbs CO2 and other excess nutrients from the ocean, making this fast-growing crop a climate-smart and nutritious food source,” said Paul Dobbins, Senior Director of Impact Investing at World Wildlife Fund – US. “But seaweed can only thrive as a climate change solution if we create a market for the many food, feed and fossil-based replacement products seaweed can provide. Ocean Rainforest is addressing the feed market and their successful capital raise shines a spotlight on this growing opportunity.”

“We are delighted that our existing shareholders as well as the new highly renowned investors within the sustainable ocean and climate impact contributed to the success of this financing round,” Ocean Rainforest co-founder and CEO Ólavur Gregersen stated. “The investment enables us to scale up operations in the Faroe Islands and continue to commercialize our cultivation and processing activities of Giant Kelp in California. Furthermore, we will investigate possibilities for replication of our business model in collaboration with local partners in specific locations in Europe and North America.”

Freezer Trawler Brestir Reports Success Using New Infigo 576 Trawl Design

Skipper Birgir Hansen at the stern of the Brestir, showing the new Infigo 576 gear. Image credits: Vónin.

Faroese freezer trawler Brestir VA 705, which back in July began using the new 576-mesh bottom trawl from Vónin known as Infigo 576, has reported that the new gear is proving to be a success after months of fishing.

“This trawl has shown that it maintains the opening for longer, so it fishes longer and more effectively,” skipper Birgir Hansen stated, referring to the fact that in the Infigo 576 design, the fishing line is the same length as that of the previously used 400-mesh gear, while at the same time there’s much more netting in the upper section of it, providing a significantly larger opening compared to the older trawl.

“We’ve also noticed there are fewer stickers in the netting,” he added according to a Vónin news release.

The new trawl design is split in the aft section, with two bellies and two bags; so even if it’s much larger, it’s only marginally heavier to tow than the old gear, we’re told.

“This trawl tows well, even in heavy weather,” the skipper said. “The trawl is as robust as the old gear, and we’ve hauled it off a fastener and onto the deck with one parted bridle, and the damage was no more than we would have expected with the old trawl.”

“We haven’t even used the old gear since we started fishing with the Infigo gear,” Mr. Hansen further noted. “We fished so well on Greenland halibut off East Greenland that one of the skippers that were fishing next to us said we were getting with this trawl around two-thirds of what he was catching with two trawls. I’m so pleased with this trawl that it’s the only gear we’ve been using since it came on board last summer; and we have fished in East Greenland, UK waters and around the Faroe Islands.”

Sørvágur-based freezer trawler Brestir, built in 1986.

Fuglafjørður Receives 75,000 Tonnes of Fresh Catch in ‘Historic and Record-breaking’ Month

Fuglafjørður’s main harbor viewed from across the bay (file photo). Image credits: Bui Tyril.

The first month of 2023 turned out the busiest ever for the Port of Fuglafjørður, according to figures reported by a former Mayor of Fuglafjørður, who noted in a public statement that 60,000 tonnes of primarily blue whiting had been landed to fish meal, marine oil and feed factory Havsbrún while the Pelagos freezing plant had taken in 15,000 tonnes of mackerel and capelin.

The neighboring Bergfrost cold store was obviously busy as well storing thousands of tonnes of freshly frozen fish, and so were other businesses in the neighborhood.

“Even if it’s high winter and we people on shore think the weather is rough and windy, well, our fishermen arrive from sea with their heavily loaded vessels heading in to Fuglafjørður one by one,” said Sigurð S. Simonsen, former Mayor of Fuglafjørður. “They carry valuable catch to the benefit of our country and people. Havsbrún have received 60,000 tonnes; Pelagos have received 15,000 tonnes; fresh catch in total received in January 75,000 tonnes.”

“Receiving 75,000 tonnes of fresh catch in a single month is doubtlessly historic and record-breaking [for a port] in the Faroe Islands,” Mr. Simonsen added.

SEV, Minesto Bolster Partnership in Large-scale Tidal Energy Project

Lifting the Dragon 4 in Vestmanna. Image credits: Minesto.

Swedish ocean energy developer Minesto and Faroese utility company SEV have extended and scaled up their joint venture in the development of their tidal energy project in the Faroe Islands.

According to an announcement from Minesto the “renewed and expanded” collaboration agreement includes “the ongoing electricity production in Vestmannasund and the first large scale tidal array in Hestfjord.”

“An important add-on to the extended agreement stipulates the exclusive nature of the collaboration regarding the Hestfjord site development and build-out,” Minesto said. “This aspect facilitates and supports the ongoing work to create an attractive investment and the set-up of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to funnel project investments, Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), potential public funding (e.g. EU) and other assets.”

The agreement also outlines the expanded operation at the existing Vestmanna production site, we’re told. Minesto recently completed the Dragon 4 site with a second subsea foundation and additional electrical infrastructure, with installation work onshore for the 1.2 MW Dragon 12 carried out simultaneously.

The collaboration is based on sharing of production and performance data from ongoing operations as well as in-depth analysis of site characteristics of the existing and planned site locations for joint business case assessments, Minesto CEO Dr. Martin Edlund explained.

“Strengthened and extended collaboration with the utility company SEV is a cornerstone for Minesto in creating one of our first tidal energy arrays,” he noted. “SEV’s role as a pioneer customer, infrastructure provider and obvious leading local actor is highly appreciated and valued.”

“Minesto has shown a strong commitment to the Faroe Islands operations and the technology is in steady progress,” Hákun Djurhuus, CEO of SEV stated. “We’re looking forward to the upcoming scale-up of the dragons as well as continued site development work in Hestfjord.”

Thor Purchases Support Vessel to Serve Offshore Wind

Vos Shine berthed at Rous Head Harbour, Port of Fremantle, Australia. Image credits: Bahnfrend.

Entering Japan’s renewable energy sector, one of Faroese company Thor’s subsidiaries, Thor Wind, has acquired the Vos Shine, a support vessel the company had bareboat-chartered from Vroon Offshore Services of the Netherlands.

According to Thor, the newly acquired vessel is expected to re-enter operations in Japan in about two weeks.

“Thor is taking this step as part of the Japanese government initiatives to achieve a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sector by 2050,” Thor CEO Hans Andrias Kelduberg said.

He added that tasks for the Vos Shine include to take core samples of the ocean floor in preparation for the construction of offshore wind power facilities.

Thor Wind has equipped the vessel with a drilling rig and other equipment for the task, he said.

60 meters long with a beam of 15m, the 1794-gross tonne Vos Shine has a crew of about 34 including officers. The is currently docked at a shipyard in South Korea for its 10-year classing; renaming is to take place as well during the occasion.

“We’re excited about this venture and see many opportunities in offshore wind,” Mr. Kelduberg said. “We had chartered the vessel as a test case to see if this could be a project we could get up and running and after a year or so we decided it looks viable so we decided to go ahead with the purchase of Vos Shine.”

The vessel has been registered in the FAS, the Faroese International Ship Register, with home port in Hósvík.

Bakkafrost Receives New 109-meter Fish Farming Vessel ‘Bakkafossur’

The newly arrived newbuild Bakkafossur aquaculture vessel berthed at Glyvrar, January 7th, 2023. Image credits: Jens Kristian Vang — Portal.fo.

The headquarters of salmon farmer Bakkafrost at Glyvrar were the scene of a grand reception on January 7th as the brand new 109-meter hybrid well boat ‘Bakkafossur’ arrived at the company’s terminal.

Making the fish farming major’s fleet of workboats as many as a total 89, this was, in the words of Bakkafrost CEO Regin Jacobsen, “a significant moment for the business.” The impressive vessel is considered “one of the largest well boats in the global aquaculture industry.”

The reception at Glyvrar on Saturday with Bakkafrost board members and senior management saw a number of dignitaries including Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen and other government representatives plus scores of curious professionals and local residents gathered — all defying the pouring rain to welcome the ship and its crew members, who were arriving from from the Sefine Shipyard in Turkey.

The building of the highly technological vessel commenced in the summer of 2020 and was completed in December 2022.

Bakkafossur can reportedly carry up to 1,000 tonnes of live salmon and is regarded as “a huge upgrade to secure sustainable operations in the future.”

In addition to the five diesel-electric engines, the vessel is equipped with large batteries, ensuring an approximate 20-percent increase in energy efficiency. The strategic placement of the engines on the top deck secures the opportunity for a swift change to sustainable energy solutions when such are available on the market.

Equipped with reverse osmosis technology for de-salination of water with a production capacity of 6,000 tonnes of freshwater a day, Bakkafossur adds significant freshwater treatment capacity to Bakkafrost’s operations in the Faroe Islands, according to Bakkafrost.

“Treating salmon with freshwater is an efficient way to rinse the gills, restore gill health and ensure more robust and healthy growth,” we’re told.

In addition, Bakkafossur will be equipped with an FLS sea-lice removal system, increasing biosecurity in line with Bakkafrost’s sustainability strategy.

Bakkafossur is also prepared for offshore farming.

“We need to see an increase in the supply of sustainable protein,” Mr. Jacobsen said at the reception. “Aquaculture and salmon farming in particular is regarded as one of the best solutions for sustainable food production when considering sustainability in the broadest sense. The Faroe Islands offer many opportunities — thus it is of vital importance that the will, skills and regulations facilitate the utilization of these opportunities. With Bakkafossur, we take a huge step towards both offshore farming and more sustainable operations.”

The CEO added: “Our vision for the Faroe Islands is to increase our production output significantly to increase the general supply of sustainable ocean food, contributing to the sustainable transformation of the world’s food system.”

More photos from the event…

Varðin Pelagic Processing Plant Plans Major Expansion at Tvøroyri

Aerial view of the Varðin Pelagic processing plant at Tvøroyri. Image credits: Varðin.

Faroese fishing major Varðin’s pelagic processing facility at Tvøroyri, known as Varðin Pelagic, is set for a major expansion in the near future, according to news reports. The high-tech processing plant at Tvøroyri on the island Suðuroy opened for business in 2012 and is now planning to expand into protein production with a plant for fish meal and marine oil as well as a factory to produce surimi mass out of primarily blue whiting.

According to a statement by the company, its aim is to process as much as possible of the landings it receives of herring, mackerel, capelin and especially blue whiting, so that instead of part of the raw material the factory receives being shipped elsewhere for protein and fish oil production, the entire process can take place on one location.

Blue whiting in particular is a species used almost entirely for production of meal and oil, and a new processing plant at Tvøroyri can provide an opportunity to make better use of catch landings by Varðin’s own fleet of fishing vessels, while at the same time boosting employment in the region.

The company has for years explored the options for producing surimi mass from blue whiting.

According to news media, Varðin Pelagic has placed an application for permission from the Municipal Council of Tvøroyri to build a new fishmeal and fish oil production plant alongside a facility for producing surimi mass.

Atlantic Airways Sells Historic A319 in Fleet Upgrade

The A319 with call name OY-RCG taking off (Shun Grist — V1 Images).

With the aim of adding a fourth Airbus A320 to its fleet in March 2023, Faroe Islands carrier Atlantic Airways has sold the first Airbus A319 airplane that it purchased back in 2012.

The replacement of the A319 is part of the airline’s ongoing efforts to become more competitive and more sustainable, the company said.

Nicknamed Elinborg by Atlantic Airways, the outgoing A319 plane, with the call name OY-RCG, is scheduled to leave Vagar for the last time on December 15th. The airline has looked into and considered options for selling the A319, the smallest airplane in its fleet, and in that respect a contract has been signed with American company CFM Materials, who offered the highest bid.

Arriving in March 2012, in what represented a milestone in Faroese aviation history, the then brand new Elinborg was the first Airbus plane in the Atlantic Airways fleet. Built at the Airbus factory in Hamburg and specially equipped for scheduled flights to and from Vagar Airport, this was Europe’s first aircraft equipped with the advanced RNP AR 0.1 navigation technology, which, as it turned out, significantly improved flight punctuality and regularity on aviation routes to the Faroe Islands.

“The Elinborg has completed 20,819 flight hours spread over a total 11,242 departures and arrivals,” Atlantic Airways noted in a news release. “For a limited period of time the aircraft was leased to a Canary Islands company that had to cancel its business activities due to the effects of Covid-related restrictions.”

For replacement, if everything goes according to plan, a long-term leased A320 airplane will join the Atlantic Airways fleet in March 2023. That will upgrade the fleet to four Airbus A320 aircraft and two AW 139 helicopters. Out of the four planes, two are Airbus A320neo, known as the most energy-saving of its kind. All of the fixed-wing aircraft are equipped with RNP AR 0.1 navigation technology.

“We are grateful for the opportunity we had to use A319 airplanes, which have served us exceptionally well,” Atlantic Airways CEO Jóhanna á Bergi stated.

“With increasing numbers of air passengers, however, the time has come for us to finally say goodbye to the A319 period. With four larger A320s, all of equal size, we will be able to boost competitivity and operate our flights more effectively. Also the A320s are more sustainable compared to A319 when considering CO2 emissions per seat and per flight.”

On Thursday December 15th, the Elinborg A319 will leave the Faroes for the last time as it heads from Vagar on a direct flight to the United States. The new Airbus A320 airplane to join the fleet come spring, will be given the call sign OY-RCM and will acquire the nickname Elinborg.

Underwater Lighting Becomes an International Hit for JT Electric as It Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Fish farm at Velbastaður on the west coast of Streymoy (Ólavur Frederiksen — FaroePhoto.com).

Celebrating the 50-year anniversary of its founding these days, Fuglafjørður-based electrical engineering firm JT Electric is experiencing rapid international growth.

Over the last four years, the company has seen its sales multiply in key export markets and branches established abroad, most notably in Scotland, where the company acquired Sterner Aquatech, of Inverness, about two years ago. 

A subsidiary was likewise established in Poland as well as a sales office in Denmark, according to CEO Suni Justinussen.

One main focus of the business has been, and remains, the aquaculture industry, whose demand for underwater electrical applications has been rising in recent years. On the back of that demand, JT Electric has developed several of its own products and services, including a standard solution for underwater lighting that is being used in the aquaculture business around the world.

“Demand for our products such as OceanLight has by far exceeded our expectations,” Mr. Justinussen noted.

“The OceanLight has become such a success likely in part because of its ability to withstand very harsh weather conditions, and because of the fact that it requires only little maintenance.”

“Under normal circumstances, the fish reaches maturation during early autumn,” we’re told. “The early development causes the fish to lose their value, and the mortality rates begin to rise. The purpose of our OceanLight is to control the fishes’ perception of the seasons, thereby postponing maturation, enhancing growth, and reducing mortality. The lights enable the fish farmer to keep the fish in the cage for an extra farming season before slaughter, without risking the fish losing its value or expiring due to the danger of the premature ageing process.”

On November 24th, JT Electric’s head office at Kambsdalur near Fuglafjørður will be hosting an open house event to celebrate the 50th anniversary since the company’s founding by Jóhannes Thomsen back in 1972.