The new technology will provide a sustainable way to increase salmon production. OceanTech – the fish farming facility of the future.
Text, Tord T. Olsen
The aquaculture industry is only 40-50 years old, yet there have been enormous developments since we first put cages out in Norwegian fjords . We are now taking a further leap towards future perfection
OceanTech is the name for a new type of semi-enclosed modular net pen or cage as they are known colloquially. The technology has been developed in a partnership between Salten Aqua and Technip FMC, one of the world’s leading suppliers of marine technology.
– We chose to work with the world leaders in aquaculture, said Idar Lindanger from Technip to Avisa Nordland when they presented the technology they are working on to the press.
A facility that promotes fish health
The new farming facilities will be partially enclosed. This means that we will have the opportunity to control the water that goes in and out of the facilities. In this way we can remove the problem of salmon lice and ensure that the sea around the facilities is cleaner. We will also have far more control over the health of the fish as they grow in the cages.
– The technology currently available in the salmon industry poses numerous challenges, which means that we constantly need to work towards finding the best solutions. At present it is all about managing the environment in the best possible way, while at the same time maintaining steady growth, explains Geir Wenberg, CEO of Salten Aqua.
The cages still need to be close to the slaughterhouses, and today there are strict regulations controlling the amount of salmon that can be concentrated in one place.
– There is some talk about expanding into the open sea, but this is not currently our plan We would feel more exposed there. It is also not a good idea to move the farming onshore. That would be as natural as moving cows out to sea, says Wenberg firmly.
It certainly looks futuristic, and this is exactly what it is. The company Biovivo specialises in fish health, and is also involved in the project. They describe the concept as a sustainable farming system for safeguarding fish health. And at the same time as focusing on sustainability, the system will also ensure growth.
Wenberg believes that the future growth will largely be in the same areas where there are currently operations Some of the growth may take place further offshore, while the potential for an increase onshore is minimal. The majority of the growth must take place in sheltered waters close to skilled manpower and slaughterhouses, as well as not far from the roads, railways and airports required for logistics operations
– I have been on the Vestfjord in storm force 10 conditions, and we will not engage in aquaculture production there, emphasises Wenberg.
At present growth is hindered by the technology currently available. To counter this, the authorities are distributing development concessions, which allow for growth in the industry, but on different terms than before. Two of the companies that own Salten Aqua, Wenberg Fiskeoppdrett and Edelfarm, are among the many companies that have applied for a concession.
– Now the entire industry has been forced to innovate, with a focus on fish welfare and sustainability. I think it is a very good idea that benefits everyone, says Wenberg.
The first module is already in production as a prototype on land. If we get a development concession in the New Year, we will start testing it at sea.
– We hope to have a larger version of the prototype in place within 3 years. – It won’t be until then that we can start making money from it, says Wenberg.
Photo: Ståle Weseth
OceanTECH fact box:
- The new facilities are partially enclosed and therefore make it possible to shut out unwanted diseases and lice from the surrounding environment.
- Simpler and more secure logistics systems for sorting, moving, loading and unloading.
- The risk of fish escaping will be considerably reduced.
- Nutrients will be collected to avoid them being released into the environment. Nutrients will be utilised for products that provide value.
- Intelligent “live” monitoring of the health of the fish.