Successful trial for submersible offshore copper salmon farm

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EcoSea report strong results from early trials on the use of a submersible copper salmon pen, designed for deployment in offshore locations in Chile.

A 40-metre diameter submersible cage prototype has been developed by EcoSea which specialises in copper net pens. The company reports that during the trial production cycle there were no predator attacks or escapes; high growth rates; and an 18 percent drop in production costs.

EcoSea was chosen to lead the technological development programme for Ocean Aquaculture Chile 2023 – a six year project backed by an investment of more than $7.4 million.

According to EcoSea, they were able to demonstrate that the salmon grow at a better rate than in traditional nylon cages. Although similar-sized fish were obtained, the prototype was stocked two months later and with salmon that were originally 47.5 per cent smaller. The company also reported a 2 per cent lower mortality rate, and it is estimated that it avoided the emission of 27 tons of CO2.

“The production cycle with the submersible cage raft showed rapid growth development, low bacterial and parasite loads (Caligus lice), and zero losses due to sea lion attacks. From the operational point of view, the technology is very friendly, safe and efficient, with very low fouling adhesion, thus validating a robust and reliable aquaculture system,” said Omar Cheuquepil, head of production at Invermar, which is also part of the project.

The initiative seeks to establish the technical requirements for offshore aquaculture with submersible cages, as well as to provide the basis for its future offshore legislation in Chile, due to the limited potential for growth in the country’s coastal areas.

The technological consortium also includes Innovex, Novatech, Fraunhofer Foundation, Aex group, Sitecna and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso. The program is supported by the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (SERNAPESCA), the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (SUBPESCA) and has the financial support of CORFO.