Norway sees workboat safety, not cage platforms, as priority – Fishupdate.com

Norway sees workboat safety, not cage platforms, as priority Fish Farming Today Published:  27 August, 2004

THE Norwegian government looks unlikely to mirror recent moves by the UK authorities to force fish farms to install working platforms on circular plastic sea cages. Norway sees workboat safety as more of a priority, Fishupdate.com has learned.

The UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in July instructed Scottish fish health inspectors not to carry out work on the circular cages unless they have a minimum of four, one-metre-wide working platforms attached.

The move is estimated to affect about a third of Scottish fish farms, a high concentration of which are in the Shetland Islands, and refers to those circular cages where the exterior consists of two buoyancy rings usually separated by a nine-inch gap.

The incidence of cages without working platforms in Norway appears to be similar. “I wouldn’t like to give a percentage, but the majority of these cages have working platforms,” a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Fish Farming Association told Fishupdate.com.

However, Knut Elkjær, senior engineer at the Norwegian Directorate of Labour Inspection, which performs a similar function to the HSE, told Fishupdate.com: “At the moment we have not made it obligatory to install working platforms on plastic sea cages, but it has been discussed from time to time.

“Due to our accident statistics, we have put more emphasis on safety on boats used on sea farms. That is where the fatal accidents in sea farming have happened here in Norway. We have not recorded any fatal accidents on plastic sea cages,” he continued.

Whether or not fish farming companies have working platforms on their cages appears to depend on individual firms’ health and safety policies.

A spokesman for Marine Harvest, which has operations in both the UK and Norway, amongst others, told Fishupdate.com. “We have safety procedures in place to prevent any kind of accidents. This is valid for all operations – Canada, Chile, Japan, Australia. For example people at the farms all wear lifejackets.”

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