Environmentalists are regularly alerting us to the problems facing our oceans – that they are devoid of fish, overheated and clogged with waste. This is catastrophic not only for marine life, but also for the rapidly growing world population, which is dependent on fish as an important, long-term source of protein. Without high-tech open-ocean aquaculture, it will be difficult to meet future demand.
Smart solutions that relocate fish farming to offshore facilities are countering this trend. For example, the Norwegian company Ocean Farming – a subsidiary of SalMar and one of the world’s largest producers of farmed salmon – is developing a new technological concept that improves the welfare of the fish while promoting sustainability and growth in limited usable areas.
1.5 million fish in 14 months
With a diameter of 110 meters and a volume of 250,000 cubic meters (equivalent to around 200 standard basins), the facility has sufficient capacity to breed 1.5 million fish in 14 months. Around 20,000 sensors are deployed here, allowing fully automated monitoring and feeding of the fish.
The challenge here is to ensure that the feed is transported safely and securely to prevent fine particles from leaking out and potentially polluting the water. Our Sicon enclosed conveyor belt, which has proved its worth over many years, was the perfect solution for Ocean Farming. At Ocean Farm 1, the flexible conveyor belts are used to transport fish feed in the Norwegian Sea. For more than a decade, they have been proving themselves in the gentle transportation of fish feed both within factories and for loading the feed onto ships and conveying it on-board. The system remains enclosed from the pick-up point to the delivery point, preventing fine particles from leaking out and polluting the environment. “Our belts can easily negotiate tight curve radii of less than one meter, such as those in this application, and 13° gradients from where the pellets are stored in the keel of the ship to the deck,” says Daniel Grimes from Continental.
In particular, our developers have modified the rubber compound to protect not only the pellets but also the conveyor belts from the harsh ocean conditions.
Safety and convenience on board
The enclosed Sicon system offers further benefits during day-to-day handling, especially in terms of safety and convenience. “Our belts improve the working conditions on board our ships. They keep odors away, and the sailors can take off their shoes on the tween decks and in the break rooms.”
Daniel Grimes supervised the project on behalf of Continental and spent some time on a feeding ship himself:
“We developed a special rubber compound for the pellets that is oil-resistant and meets the requirements of the fish feed industry. Cleanliness is crucial on-board the ship and at Ocean Farm 1. After all, we’re dealing with food here.”
Five other Sicon systems are currently installed on board ships, and one has been installed in a fish feed factory. We not only support our customers during installation of the belts, but also take care of the maintenance. This includes close contact with the customer and on-site training of the team. This enables the sailors themselves to act quickly in the event of an emergency.