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Fish swimming through a Flexi-Panel during grading. Photo: Grading Systems (UK) Ltd
Fish swimming through a Flexi-Panel during grading. Photo: Grading Systems (UK) Ltd

Norwegian net maker Egersund has entered into an agreement to purchase 70% of the shares in Shetland company Grading Systems (UK) Ltd. The remaining shares will be held by Viking Atlantic AS, owned by Grading Systems boss Carsten Wangsmo.

The Grading Systems Flexi-Panel will now be marketed by Egersund, which has taken a 70% stake in the Shetland company. Photo: Grading Systems
The Grading Systems Flexi-Panel will now be marketed by Egersund, which has taken a 70% stake in the Shetland company. Photo: Grading Systems

The main product of Grading Systems is the Flexi-Panel, a tool for the gentle and efficient sorting of fish in sea cages. 

Wangsmo said the “small but very efficient” company, which employs four people, would remain in Shetland, but Egersund would assume responsibility for Grading Systems’ sales, which last year amounted to £1.7 million.

He said: “Egersund is very keen on keeping things local. The factory in Shetland is working extremely well so we will not change anything, we will just continue.

“Egersund are much bigger in sales. They have offices all around the world, and quite a number of sales people, so we hope that will give a boost to the company.

“I would say the Norwegian market is about 50% of the turnover, and then you have Scotland and Canada, really all the salmon-producing countries, but also we are established in the Mediterranean, for sea bass.”

Better fish welfare

In a press release, Egersund Net AS said the Flexi-Panel was a good fit for its product portfolio.

"The Flexi-Panel is a recognised tool for optimal production and better fish welfare. The economic gain of using the sorting grid is significant. Today, the product is used by customers worldwide to sort different species of fish,” the company said.

"It will be exciting to work more with this product in close cooperation with Carsten," said Egersund Net sales manager Geir Kåre Tønnessen.

"We now assume sales responsibility for the product, and Carsten becomes part of our team.”

In fish farming use, the Flexi-Panel is installed into a sweep net, which is used to enclose all the fish in the cage. The sweep net is then gradually lifted, thus encouraging the smaller fish to swim through the openings in the Flexi-Panel, back into the cage. The larger fish, unable to pass through the panel openings, remain in the sweep net.

Flexi-Panel’s makers say that what makes it different to other grading nets is its light weight, which allows a much larger grading area, and the use of short lengths of uPVC pipe connected by Dyneema twine. The smooth pipes can rotate, eliminating physical damage and scale loss to fish as they pass through the apertures in the panel.