Biotechnology firm AquaBounty Technologies (ABTU:AIM) swims to a five-year high as Health Canada approves its AquAdvantage salmon (AAS) for commercial sale in Canada.

Investors are excited about the approval of the wild and sustainable salmon stock, which requires 20-25% less feed than other farmed Atlantic salmon.

Shares are up 200% to 40.5p.

AquaBounty is a small company based in Massachusetts, US, with a market cap of £34.6 million.

It aims to raise the world’s most sustainable Atlantic salmon and reduce the amount of salmon being imported to the US. The country currently imports 95% of its salmon.

This represents a huge market for AquaBounty, which it may be able to take advantage of through the economic benefits of the AquAdvantage salmon. The company made no revenue over the last year and had an operating loss of more than $7 million, although AAS sales could make a huge difference to its fortunes over the next year.

AquaBounty believes in sustainable seafood production by undertaking low impact fish farming, which is being demanded increasingly by consumers who want to ensure their food is ethically farmed.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations predicts that by 2030, 62% of seafood consumed globally will be farm raised, instead of wild caught, compared with 49% in 2012.

AquaBounty is understood to be preparing for the commercialisation phase and aims to expand its international commercial efforts. The company hopes to gain approval for the importation of its AquAdvantage eggs for local field trials in Argentina, Brazil and China.

The progress in Argentina and Brazil, whose combined markets consume more than 80,000 metric tonnes of Atlantic salmon annually, is promising. AquaBounty also expects to receive regulatory approval this year in Panama for the commercial production, sale and consumption of AquAdvantage salmon.

The Animal Feed Division of the Animal Health Directorate for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) determined feed ingredients derived from AAS do not present livestock feed safety or nutritional concerns.

Health Canada reviewed how AAS was developed, its composition and nutritional quality compared to non-modified salmon and its potential to become toxic or cause allergic reactions, as well as its health status.

Issue Date: 20 May 2016