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NETWASH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32788
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: Norway

A net gain for the aquaculture sector

Aquaculture is recognised as a sustainable alternative to the fishing of wild stocks, but fish farming installations are often fouled by marina flora and fauna.
A net gain for the aquaculture sector
Aquaculture is the cultivating and farming of fish and other aquatic organisms under controlled conditions, such as regular stocking, feeding and protection from predators. With over-fishing depleting wild fish stocks to dangerously low levels, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has identified aquaculture as a viable and sustainable alternative.

However, ‘fouling’, the growth of marine flora and fauna in submerged installations, such as the netting and fish cage, is a major challenge facing the aquaculture sector. Fouling can result in the clogging of a net which can result in depleted oxygen and elevated ammonia levels. This is detrimental to the development and general health of the fish. In addition, fouling can damage submerged equipment.

Treating fouling is at present extremely costly. The ‘In-situ net cleaning system in aquaculture’ (Netwash) project, funded under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), aimed to develop cost-effective and easy-to-operate net cleaning equipment suitable for the various cage systems used commercially.

Following several rounds of design and redesign, the final prototype system consisted of a thruster-driven vehicle equipped with a combination of brushes to clean the nets and water suction devices to collect fouling organisms and raise them to the surface, as well as a camera and illuminators to inspect the nets.

The project team promoted the technology within the aquaculture sector and investigated the possibility of patenting and commercialising the device, as well as its potential socioeconomic impact. Public awareness of the innovation was promoted through a variety of communication activities, including a website.

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