• New stock of black soldier flies arrives in Iceland
  • Víur plan to use insects to create fish feed from underused materials
  • Víur financed for the next two years

Víur is a startup based in Bolungarvík, Iceland, intending to create fish feed from underused biological streams using black soldier flies. News from Víur have been scarce in the recent months, due to a collapse in their stock of flies right at the time when it was Iceland’s only. Víur had at the time come a long way in preparing a system for a backup stock but it was not ready. To recuperate, Víur had to set up a quarantine, get it approved by authorities and get an official importing licence. This process is stringent on an island where all precautions are taken to protect wildlife, sensitive after centuries of isolation.

Katrín Sigurbjörg Sveinsdóttir skordýrabóndi tekur á móti nýjum stofni og kemur fyrir í ræktunaraðstöðu Vía í Bolungarvík.

Katrín Sigurbjörg Sveinsdóttir insect farmer accommodates the new stock in Víur’s facilities in Bolungarvík, Iceland.

“The incident shows the importance of having at least two stocks alive at any time, and we will of course do so going forward, as soon as the quarantine is lifted,” says Gylfi Ólafsson, one of Víur’s founders.

Víur plan to raise black soldier flies, a species common in warmer parts of the globe. The larvae grow fast, can digest a wide variety of substrates and are a delicious addition to many animals’ diet. The flies neither have mouth nor sting, and die in temperatures below 10–15°C. Thus, rearing them in Iceland is completely safe for both men and wildlife and no chance they will spread. The imported eggs come from a stock in Germany which has been reared in isolation for years with repeated certificates of absence of disease-causing pathogens.

Víur participate in a couple of research projects and has secured funding for the next two years. The company has inaugurated new rearing facilities in Bolungarvík, complete with control and monitoring equipment. Research in the coming months will aim at assessing growth rates and digestibility using a range of different substrates. The goal is to use underused streams, such as fish offal, to create high-quality protein for fish feed, thus reducing the environmental impact both at the feed production stage and at the waste disposal ends.

The legal framework of the European Union, of which Iceland is a part through the European Economic Area, is in many ways uncertain at the time. However, EU is in the process of clarifying its framework for insect rearing and consumption. Draft reports indicate that insect rearing will be quite restricted, with the exception of black soldier fly. Regardless of the end result, it is important that the rules and regulation be clarified.