Starfish closed cage starts ocean trialsNekkar’s Starfish closed cage aquaculture system is being trialled off southern Norway. Photo: Nekkar

Nekkar ASA has successfully commenced ocean testing of its highly innovative Starfish closed fish cage at Hidra outside Flekkefjord in southern Norway.

Starfish is a fully automated, closed fish cage system with digital remote management. At the heart of it is a software platform for remote surveillance, data acquisition, bio analytics and production control. The combination of disruptive technologies and automation sensor legacy will be building blocks for future SaaS offerings from Nekkar in the aquaculture sector.

“We are excited about the forthcoming ocean testing and the future opportunities this may present,” said Nekkar CEO Preben Liltved, commenting that Starfish has been designed to reduce environmental impact and operating expenditure to a minimum.

It has double protection against escapes, avoids problems with salmon lice due to water intake from deep waters below the cage, and collects up to 90% of biological waste. It is produced in soft materials, is recyclable and designed to optimise logistics. It also pinpoints Nekkar’s contribution to circular economy and sustainability.

Nekkar has cooperated with Lerøy Seafood ASA from the beginning of the Starfish development work, and the project is supported by Innovation Norway.

The downscaled pilot version has now been filled with seawater, and the Starfish will commence the ocean testing period before summer.

“The idea behind Starfish is to reduce opex level dramatically for the fish farming industry, while simultaneously improve fish welfare and focusing on circular economy. We look forward to verifying the technical and operational parameters of the solution, before we start preparations for testing with biomass later this year,” said Mette Harv, EVP of Nekkar’s aquaculture business area.

In both Norway and parts of Canada there is a political drive towards closed caged fish farming. Authorities view closed fish cages as a potential solution to major environmental and sustainability challenges such as sea lice, escapes and mortality rate.

“Today there are around 4000 open cages in Norway. Closed cages will open up additional locations. This illustrates the market potential for Starfish,” Mette Harv added.

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