BluGen Korea is building a 1,000-metric-ton RAS facility for olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus), also known as Japanese halibut or hirame.
The project is led by the company’s chief executive, Dr. Woo-Jai Lee, who has more than 20 years experience in genomics and breeding projects in Norway. His past work experience includes serving as director of research and development at GenoMar, developing breeding programs for Mowi, Marine Harvest and Salmar.
Lee founded the BluGen project in 2013 with the goal of introducing more sophisticated genomics and breeding technology, as well as recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology, to “an antiquated Korean aquaculture industry.”
East Asian (South Korea, Japan, China) demand for olive flounder has been increasing over the past two decades while supply has been declining due to production challenges from disease and climate change. The Korean fish and seafood industry is dependent on wild-catch or flow-through aquaculture systems, with seasonal mortality rates ranging from 40-70 per cent for olive flounder. Currently, there are no large-scale olive flounder farms.
BluGen received a US$3.2 million grant from the South Korean government to begin construction of its RAS facility, with an additional $9 million capital funds raised to date. BluGen is currently in the process of raising a round.
Construction of the RAS facility and hatchery operation in Goheung, South Korea is said to be about 60 per cent complete and production is expected to begin in Q4 of 2023. BluGen has a broodstock of eighth generation olive flounder, which will be deployed to produce 1,000 tonnes/yr of adult fish as well as up to 80 million units/yr of precision-bred seedlings for other farmers.
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