Norway Targets Offshore Big Data Fish Farm Innovation

The Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Fisheries has approved Norway’s first development concession enabling Ocean Farming AS, supported by Kongsberg Maritime AS, to build the world’s first automated, exposed aquaculture facility.

Situated outside of Trondheim, facility has been designed to overcome the challenges of more traditional inshore fish farming facilities by being located in deeper waters, further from the coast. The submerged, anchored fixed structure will float steady in the exposed ocean and is suitable for water depths of 100 to 300 meters (300 to 1,000 feet,) where the aqua biological conditions are more ideal for aquaculture on the fish’s terms. 

The benefits of offshore fish farms are numerous, says Kongsberg, with conditions more suited to nurturing healthy fish, such as steady currents that limit exposure to sea lice infection. The facility is fully automated with normal operation requiring a crew of just three or four people. It can also be remotely operated.

The Kongsberg Maritime technology scope of supply for the fish farm itself includes the K-Chief 600 automation system controlling a large number of different systems, an extensive telecoms and positioning package as well as cameras, echo sounders and sensors. 

The subsea delivery is designed to accurately detect where the fish are in the vast water volume of the cage and how they move in order to ensure effective feeding. In addition, advanced 3D display of the fish and relevant environmental parameters will be provided to the operators.

The project will be the first in the world to combine marine engineering, marine cybernetics and marine biology via a ‘big data’ approach fusing all the available underwater sensors and in this way offer decision support systems for the operators controlling and monitoring the feeding of the salmon and the overall physical environment of the sea, says Kongsberg.

“To succeed in placing fish farming in exposed areas as a viable solution to address the food gap challenge, we need to integrate and harmonize a wide range of maritime and offshore technologies, for the fish farm itself and the new vessels that will serve it,” said Thor Hukkelås, Principal Engineer Aquaculture Operations, Business Development, Kongsberg Maritime. “This is a unique, highly technical project where we will transfer our technology base and knowledge of developing for oil and gas production units and the most sophisticated vessels to provide high levels of automation and control.” 

An Aker Solution

The news follows an announcement last month that Norway Royal Salmon ASA and Aker ASA have submitted a joint application for development licenses for the offshore farming of salmon. Together, the companies have developed a new offshore aquaculture farming concept that facilitates sustainable growth in areas that the aquaculture technology thus far has not been able to exploit.

The companies have developed a semi-submersible offshore farm designed for harsh environments. By placing the farms further away from the coast, the concept increases the area utilization of Norwegian waters and will have a smaller environmental footprint, they say.

The project involves the development and testing of a brand new type of aquaculture farm with greater capacity to withstand harsh weather conditions. The companies believe the project will contribute to a new and groundbreaking standard and sustainable growth for the Norwegian aquaculture industry. The technology can be sold and used globally, and Norway will in this way contribute to the realization of the Food and Agriculture Organization's (UN) ambitious targets for global growth in the aquaculture industry.

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