Kallista Helen, all about fish welfareKallista Helen ready for launch at Ferguson Marine. Photo: Scottish Sea Farms

Scottish Sea Farms is about to take delivery of a 26-metre Scottish-built vessel that is a key element of taking fish welfare to a new level.

Launched by Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) and on long-term lease to Scottish Sea Farms from Mull-based Inverlussa Marine Services, the £6M Kallista Helen is a multi-purpose service vessel that will be fitted with a £2.5M next generation Thermolicer.

Designed by Macduff Ship Design in partnership with Inverlussa and Scottish Sea Farms, Kallista Helen will enable the salmon producer to intervene earlier in controlling sea lice, helping safeguard farmed fish health.

“I welcome this partnership which is using innovative technology to address key challenges faced by the sector,” said Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing, commenting on the collaboration between Scottish marine businesses.

“Aquaculture is a vital sector for Scotland’s economy, creating many highly paid, highly skilled jobs across the country, many of which are in rural and remote communities. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the sustainable growth of Scottish aquaculture and its wider supply chain.”


According to Inverlussa  managing director Ben Wilson, said Kallista Helen, named after his niece, was built with fish health and welfare front of mind.

“From the outset, Scottish Sea Farms was looking to minimise fish handling and maximise fish welfare, designing the boat around those. The result is so much better when you start with the fish then consider the boat, rather than the other way round.’

Central to the vessel’s custom design is the Thermolicer itself, designed and engineered by ScaleAQ in Norway in partnership with ScaleAQ UK.

The first of its kind to be constructed in Scotland, the system includes a simpler, straighter pipe providing gentler fish handling, a wider than standard pipe of 600mm diameter to ensure a smoother journey through the system, increased capacity of up to 120 tonnes per hour, and 150-micron filtration to separate and collect the dislodged sea lice for removal from the marine environment.

The Thermolicer is so called because it used lukewarm water to dislodge sea lice from farmed salmon. Farmed fish are drawn gently out of the pen then bathed in lukewarm water (20° above ambient seawater to a maximum temperature of 34°) for less than 30 seconds. This brief change in temperature causes the sea lice to fall off, resulting in up to 95% clearance. The lice are then collected and disposed of responsibly, and the fish returned to their pens.

In another first, the service vessel has been custom-built to house this delousing technology internally within a dedicated sheltered deck to protect it from the elements. The advantages are better operational efficiency, improved seaworthiness and safer working conditions for the crew, while also freeing up space on the vessel’s top deck for equipment, including three cranes which means Kallista Helen will be less dependent on other workboats during treatments.

A heat recovery system draws engine heat and transfers it to the delousing system, saving on both fuel usage and carbon emissions.

“Not only is the Kallista Helen another important step forward in our drive to ensure the best growing conditions for our fish, it’s also a great example of Scottish business supporting Scottish business from drawing board through to final deployment,” said Scottish Sea Farms managing director Jim Gallagher.

“Events outside everyone’s control have caused delays but we’ve stuck together throughout, stayed focused on the end goal and now we’re back on course.”

Kallista Helen is expected to arrive in Shetland in early May where it will be fitted out by Scale AQ’s Scottish team and Ocean Kinetics of Lerwick. Once the installation is complete, the vessel will operate with two five-strong crews – one from Scottish Sea Farms, the other from Inverlussa – each working three week on/off shift patterns.

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