Ocean Farming AS, a subsidiary of the SalMar Group, was established to develop an offshore fish farming capability.
Through the development and implementation of new technologies and the buildup of operational experience, Ocean Farming will acquire the specialist expertise needed for this next generation of fish farming facilities to achieve its potential.
For SalMar, sustainable growth in the aquaculture industry depends on its ability to make use of new locations that offer good biological conditions for the farming of fish stocks – typically areas that are less affected by tidal currents and where the direction of currents is more constant.
The project’s objective is to develop technologies that will make it possible to establish aquacultural activities in areas of more open water which have not so far been used. Feasibility studies started in 2012, and over the past three years various technical solutions have been evaluated. This has resulted in the design of a complete offshore fish farming installation. If successful, an initial, full scale pilot facility could help to resolve the aquaculture industry’s currently limited opportunities for further growth.
When developing the technical solutions, every fish farming process has been taken into account, and new approaches have been found for how the various operating procedures should be performed. The project has collaborated with key suppliers within the aquaculture and offshore oil and gas industries to resolve these challenges. In addition to complying with the aquaculture industry’s own fabrication standards, the regulations and standards applicable in the offshore oil and gas sector have also influenced the installation’s design. The pilot facility is generic in its configuration, which means that while individual installations may have the same overall design, they must be certified/adapted to the prevailing weather and environmental conditions at their intended locations.
SalMar has been allocated a site at Frohavet, off the coast of central Norway, for this project. The objective is that operational experience gained from this pilot facility will be fed back into commercial production of this type of offshore fish farming installation.
Ocean Farming has received grants from Innovation Norway to help fund the concept development phase.
The technical solution is based on “the best” Norwegian industry has to offer from the fields of aquaculture and offshore oil and gas. It comprises a slack anchored, semi-submersible, rigid structure, with a high degree of flotational stability. It is intended for offshore installation in water depths of 100 to 300 metres. The project is based on proven technologies combined to afford optimal fish farming performance.
All fish handling operations can be performed on board, without recourse to external service vessels or equipment. In addition, the facility is equipped with one moveable and two fixed bulkheads so that it can be divided into three separate compartments, enabling different fish related operations to be performed. The installation is fully automated to eliminate heavy manual operations. Normally, a crew of 3-4 people will operate and monitor the facility. Risk analyses show that the potential for fish escapes is very low.
The pilot installation will be equipped for the performance of R&D activities, with particular focus on biological conditions and fish welfare. In this way it will help to promote the further advancement of the aquaculture industry through applied research and development.
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