Marine Harvest Faroe Islands Site
Continuous improvement is an essential component of successful salmon farming and applying locally gathered information to apply to similar challenges throughout the world is invaluable.
With this in mind, Floyd Cole, Port Hardy Area Production Manager, Jeff King, Engineer, and Rodney Clarke, Manager at Shelter Bay, travelled to the Faroe Islands last fall. The islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Iceland and Scotland.
“We wanted to see how they (the Faroese) manage rough weather,” said Floyd, commenting that their weather conditions are similar to those found on the North Island. Although BC has stronger tidal currents and higher tides, wind and wave action is comparable.
As a result of the trip, most steel cages in Floyd’s area will be converted to 120m offshore plastic circles, a process that is now underway at Doyle Island. Total cost for the conversion is about $1.5 million dollars, including cages and anchoring.
The offshore plastic circles are just as safe as conventional steel cages but will be different to work with since a boat is needed to travel from cage to cage, said Floyd. Although plastic cages are somewhat common in BC, the new Aqualine cages at Doyle Island are believed to be the first of their kind in BC with the large diameter pipe (450mm) and full perimeter walkways.
The transition to the different cages is expected to be a smooth one, said Floyd, because plastic cages are already used exclusively in Klemtu and, on a more limited basis, in his area. “The existing knowledge within the company will help a lot,” he stated.
Anchoring was the special focus for Jeff. He found the Faroe farms are anchored much the same as BC farms with the exception that they need to allow for high waves. The anchor lines have few metal components which are subject to wear; the lines are left slack to allow movement of the cages in the waves.Rodney’s site faces some of the harshest weather conditions of any active salmon farming site in BC, often experiencing 20 foot waves. He appreciated the opportunity to talk to managers who had experience with plastic cages, an idea that had been under consideration here before the trip.
It was really useful to find out we were making the right decision in going to the plastic cages, Rodney said.
Every farm site they visited is bound by strict bio-security measures. Each staff member has separate clothing that is worn on site only. Interestingly enough, staff don’t stay overnight on any sites. It’s not a long trip to and from the Faroes site, roughly the distance from Campbell River to Quadra Island, said Jeff.
Floyd, Jeff, and Rodney spoke very highly of the warm hospitality shown to them by all the Marine Harvest Faroes staff. This friendliness extended to the sites owned by other companies they visited. The trio was treated to a soccer game between the Faroese national team and the Austrian team in the capital city of Torshavn. They were also were treated to many delicious meals, sampling the fine Faroese cooking.
By Gina Forsyth