Safer fish cages for increased aquaculture

Aqualine heads the school in net cage design

Photo: Thomas Bjørkan / Wikimedia Commons  Fish cages in Velfjorden, Brønnøy, Norway.

Photo: Thomas Bjørkan / Wikimedia Commons
Fish cages in Velfjorden, Brønnøy, Norway.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

Norway’s long and jagged coastline surrounded by cold, fresh seawater provides excellent conditions for fish farming. More than half of our largest fish farming companies are located on the West Coast. The development of commercial aquaculture began around 1970. Since then fish farming has developed into a major industry. Salmon is by far the most important. Today Norway is the leading producer of Atlantic salmon and the second largest seafood exporter in the world (only China is larger), and fish farming accounts for close to 50 percent of fish production.

One company that has taken part in this expansion is Aqualine. The company has been supplying net cages to the fish farms in the toughest and most demanding maritime areas of the world for over 35 years. Everything they do is based on local conditions determining the composition of the elements they use to create a safe net cage. The company is located in Trondheim, Hamarvik, Fosnavåg, and Haugesund, as well as in Australia and Chile. In 2013 revenues reached 336 million NOK and gross profits 28 million.

In various global “hot spots,” predators such as seals are the number one problem when it comes to farming fish. Double net systems are not new to the aquaculture industry, however the key issue has always been in maintaining adequate separation between the predator and the fish net and maintaining sufficient tensioning on all nets, even under the most challenging environmental conditions. Aqualine, through its global network, is very in tune with the seal predator issue and has worked extremely hard in developing and supplying a predator prevention system that works.

Analysis and product development in consultation with the customers has always been part of the company’s process. Every year they invest 4-5 percent of their turnover in research, as it is of great importance so that they supply safe and suitable equipment to all types of locations. Lately they have been testing new and existing concepts within cages, nets, and moorings at the Marintek tank in Trondheim. The model test of extreme currents, waves, and winds provides the company with detailed information about forces and movements in every part of the cage. This makes it possible to optimize the configurations and minimize the risk profile for the customer.

Aqualine has a complete net cage system in which all components work together to protect the fish and personnel. They have worked to reduce the risk of escape and to improve working conditions. Their new system, introduced two years ago, has proven that even during extreme weather conditions at very exposed locations the interaction between fish net, sinker tube, and cage flotation collar functions optimally. Over 270 fish nets have been sold over the two last years, which is probably why Aqualine was named the Company of the Year in Mid Norway last year!

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.

This article originally appeared in the July 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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