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The Aquatraz cage is towed back into the fjord after being blown ashore. Photo: Lena Erikke Hatland (with permission)
The Aquatraz cage is towed back into the fjord after being blown ashore. Photo: Lena Erikke Hatland (with permission)

An “Aquatraz” cage operated by a Norwegian fish farmer broke free from moorings and was driven on to the rocky shore in a storm yesterday.

The rigid-walled cage, which is over 20 metres high and weighs around 500 tonnes, was empty and was floating on pontoons after being raised for washing and disinfection.

When the Aquatraz cages are immersed in the sea and filled with fish they are not exposed to such weather, operator Midt-Norsk Havbruk said in a press release.

Rescue vessel

Two service boats and rescue vessel RS Harald V were able to pull the cage away from the shore, wrote Namdalsavis reporter Lena Erikke Hatland.

“They took quite a long time before they got it done. The reason is the bad weather conditions with heavy winds,” Hatland explained.

There was no visible damage to the cage, which will be checked more closely when weather permits, said Midt-Norsk Havbruk. The cage, specially designed to maintain stability even under strong external stresses, seemed to have coped with the unexpected stress well. 

‘Undesirable event’

“This is an undesirable event for Midt-Norsk Havbruk. So far it seems to have gone well, thanks to quick, good efforts from talented staff,” said chief executive Frank Øren.

Strong winds pushed the cage inland towards the Eiterfjord shore. Midt-Norsk Havbruk deployed several service vessels to pull the cage from land, including the 24-metre-long power tug Hermann Jr. which also received assistance from the rescue vessel RS Harald V.

Over the past year, the company has tested the first generation of Aquatraz cages at the Eiterfjord site, in Nærøy, Central Norway. The Aquatraz cage is scheduled to be moved to the Kyrøyan site in Vikna.

According to Namdalsavisa, a large number of spectators followed the rescue operation.