New anchoring technology for aquaculture takes a leap forward


A CONSORTIUM of researchers has taken a significant step forward in the development of anchoring technology that could support the aquaculture sector’s ambitions to deliver long-term sustainable growth and reduce its environmental impact.

For the past year, tidal energy technology specialist Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd (SME); the University of Dundee; marine equipment supplier, Gael Force Group; and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) have explored the feasibility of adapting a rock anchor approach from techniques used in marine energy sites to aquaculture.

With additional support from software provider Optum, the initial testing phase has been successfully completed and the results will allow the group to accurately predict the loads and capacity that rock anchors can bear in field trials.

The findings will also enable SME to reduce the amount of material required to manufacture the anchors, leading to a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly product.

The group is now looking for an aquaculture partner to trial the new anchors at a fish farm, progressing towards a full-scale deployment.

Adam Caton, Sustainable Marine Energy geotechnical engineer, said: “To date, the project has been a tremendous success, allowing us to create a more cost-effective anchoring technology that will benefit the aquaculture sector

“This is a new sector for us and a market in which we are extremely interested. The next stage is to trial the technology at a fish farm alongside continued lab testing, to take another step forward in bringing the product to market.” 

When fully developed, adoption of the new anchoring technology could allow fish and shellfish farms to look at areas which are currently unusable. Locating operations in deeper, higher energy waters could help to reduce a range of health and wellbeing risks for aquaculture species, while also increasing the industry’s capacity, by allowing the development of larger farms with a lower environmental footprint.

Heather Jones, SAIC chief executive officer, added: “Having an alternative way of deploying sites in higher energy water could play an important role in the sector’s sustainable growth over the next decade.

“It builds on many of our previous projects around fish well-being and it is particularly pleasing to bring skills from another key area of the Scottish economy into aquaculture, underlining the potential for cross-sector collaboration and knowledge sharing.”

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