A Norwegian-based start-up aims to be the first company to succeed in the commercial production of giant squid.
Up until now it has been generally considered that Architeuthis dux, which lives at ocean depths of up to 1,000 metres, was not a species that could be kept in captivity, let alone farmed for human consumption,
KrakenNor said that its novel approach to farming, combined with a programme of genetic selection carried out over the last 10 years, means that its project is technically and commercially viable.
The company’s Chief Executive, Inga Larsson, said: “Giant squid thrive in the cool waters of the north Atlantic and Norway is the ideal environment to grow this species, which could in future years play an important role in providing healthy, abundant protein for a growing world population.”
In the wild, female giant squid have been known to grow up to 13 metres in length, although this is mostly tentacles, with the mantle (or torso) only five metres or less.
KrakenNor’s Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Pierre Arronax, said the company intends to harvest its squid slightly before they have reached maximum size.
He added: “Our unique design of deep cylindrical cages allows the squid to remain at their preferred depth of 300 metres during the day, while rising to the surface to feed at night.”
A location has been identified for the company’s first farm site, but this has not been disclosed.
Architeuthis favours sperm whale as its prey of choice, which presented KrakenNor with a dilemma, as whales and related species are internationally protected. However, intensive research has come up with a soy-based feed which contains only a minimum of cetacean content.
KrakenNor is financed by Mexican investment fund Pescas Gigantes, which hit the headlines in 2020 when the piranha farming venture it backed in the Amazon collapsed amid allegations that employee safety had not been prioritised.
Giant squid has an excellent feed conversion ratio and is not troubled by sea lice. It remains to be seen, however, whether consumers will take to the idea. Giant squid is not an accepted element in most cuisines, and is currently only on the menu in Japan, where it is known as gocha, and in the Seychelles, where it is consumed in a traditional Easter dish known as poisson d’Avril.