Fish farming enters the space age – Fishfarmer Magazine

Fish farming enters the space age19 March, 2014 –

THE world’s seas could soon be home to a raft of state-of-the art ‘robo-rigs’, an exciting innovation developed by a Norwegian company that could pave the way for a new era of aquaculture.

Previously a shallow water operation, the potential of offshore fish farming has been discussed at length both within and outwith the aquaculture industry as one solution to meeting global demand for fish effectively and sustainably.

As such, the prototype mobile rig unveiled by Ocean Farming this month has been extremely well received from the aquaculture industry.

Ocean Farming – a subsidiary of the SalMar Group – began development of the rig in 2012, presenting its solution to operation in exposed ocean areas last year. The project has also been backed by Innovation Norway.

The design combines the best of existing technology and solutions from the Norwegian fish farming industry, the offshore oil and gas sector and proven technology developed for optimal fish farming.

The 5,600-tonne submerged facility, 67 metres high and 110 metres in diameter with a volume of 245,000m2, is an anchored fixed floating structure, floating steady in the exposed ocean and suitable for water depths of 100-300 metres.

All of the farming operations can be managed onboard the facility, negating the need for service vessels and outside equipment.

In practical terms this means that the fish can stay within the net from smolt stocking right through to harvestable fish.

The facility is also equipped with one moveable and two fixed bulkheads that can divide it into three compartments, enabling different fish operations to be performed.

Mounted spray nozzles on the moveable bulkhead also allow regular net cleaning. Risk studies have also found the facility to be extremely secure in relation to fish escapes.

The facility is fully automated, and during normal operations requires a crew of between 2-4 to monitor and manage – although it can also be operated remotely.

Later this year Ocean Farming will be inviting tenders for the construction of the first ‘pilot’ facility in the period 2014-16. A suitable location has already been assigned.

It can only be hoped that this exciting opportunity to alter the direction of fish farming is snapped up – I guess it’s a case of ‘watch this space.’