A bubble barrier system protecting a salmon farm in Chile. Photo: Low O2 and PSP Solutions.

Chilean bubble barrier ‘on Scotland fish farms soon’

A company that supplies microbubble barriers and upwelling systems to protect fish farms from algal and jellyfish blooms in Chile is hoping to start developing projects in Scotland soon.

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Low O2’s systems are employed by major salmon producers such as AquaChile, Mowi, Cermaq, Australis and Camanchaca, and one is being trialled at a salmon farm in Ireland.

The Chilean company was recently a keynote speaker at the Improving Marine Survival seminar organised by trade body Salmon Scotland and attended by salmon farmers and academics.

Low O2 presented at a recent seminar organised by Salmon Scotland. Photo: Low O2.

Successful experience

“We were invited to present the successful experience of our technology in farms in Chile and Ireland, which includes microbubble barriers and upwelling systems,” said Low O2 general manager Luis Sepúlveda.

The technical seminar focused on how Low O2 microbubble barriers had proven effective in controlling and mitigating blooms in the farms where they have been implemented.

“Along with the proven effectiveness in the farming centres, we also highlighted that our innovation has been scientifically tested by Southern University of Chile and Andean Plankton Laboratory,” said Sepúlveda, who added that there was a high level of interest from Scotland.

“One of the main problems of the salmon industry in Scotland is algal blooms and the high presence of phytoplankton that weaken the fish and make them more prone to diseases such as AGD (amoebic gill disease). To mitigate these events, the microbubble curtain and upwelling technologies developed by Low O2 can be a key tool for producers.”

Different conditions

The company has so far installed more than 180 systems, mostly in Chile, where algal blooms are an even bigger problem than they can be in Scotland.

The system in Ireland was installed last summer by Low O2 and a sister company, PSP Solutions, for a customer wanting to test the efficacy of such systems in Ireland’s more challenging sea conditions.

The project involves an underwater microbubble barrier system installed at a farm in County Mayo. It is intended to mitigate the passage of jellyfish and algal blooms and particulate from 4 microns upwards.

As in Scotland, the conditions of the Irish Sea are very different from those at farm sites in southern Chile.

“Because of that our engineers had to work considering different types of cages, anchors, currents, depths, and temperatures, among other conditions,” explained Sepulveda last year.