Award Treat as Britain’s Benchmark is Aqua Nor finalist

Ace Aquatec's Nathan Pyne-Carter collects the Innovation Award at Aqua Nor 2017 from then fisheries minister Per Sandberg

BENCHMARK’S CleanTreat sea lice system is one of three finalists named in the coveted Aqua Nor Innovation Award, to be announced at the exhibition in Trondheim in August.

The other two companies chosen by the judges of the Nor-Fishing Foundation are Trondheim based Ecotone, for its SpectraLice – a fully automatic underwater camera that counts lice on salmon; and Mørenot Robotics, which has developed an autonomous underwater robot that prevents fouling growth on the net.

The Aqua Nor organisers received a total of 30 applications for this year’s Innovation Award from innovator companies in 11 countries. Some 40 per cent of entries came from outside Norway.

The Innovation Prize in 2017 was awarded to Scotland’s Ace Aquatec, for developing a humane electric stunning system. The Dundee based firm decided not to enter the competition this year.

UK firm Benchmark’s CleanTreat is a water purification system that prevents medicines entering the sea. It is currently deployed in Norway, working alongside wellboats to remove medicines from sea lice bath treatment water.

The system, which has so far processed more than 300,000 m3 of treatment water, can be used in the treatment of other diseases and parasitic infections.

Ecotone’s SpectraLice is a fully automatic underwater camera that counts lice on freely swimming salmon. The camera has software that analyses all colours in reflected light and uses it for automatic detection.

SpectraLice counts and reports salmon lice via 4G networks to the desired platform (plant, head office and portable devices). The system can also report to authorities and researchers.

And Mørenot Robotics, of Bodø, Norway, has developed an autonomous underwater robot that prevents fouling growth on the net by using a continuous, low intensity brushing.

NetRobot X2 is put into the water in a clean net and will keep the net wall continuously clean and free of fouling as long as the fish farmer wishes.

The robot has electric thrusters that ensure proper pressure against the net and manoeuvring, according to the operating pattern of cleaning the entire net wall.

The prize jury included Kjell Maroni of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Research Fund, Oddvar Staulen of Innovation Norway, and Jan Henrik Sandberg of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association.

They took into account the degree of innovation, the importance of the project for the aquaculture industry and the international market value for the developer.

The board of the Nor-Fishing Foundation will review the jury’s recommendations in a meeting on Monday, August 19, and this year’s Innovation Award – of NOK 100,000 and a diploma – will be presented to the winner on the opening day of Aqua Nor, on August 20.