Ocean Farm 1 is an experimental salmon farm designed for less-sheltered water.

Fish escape from Ocean Farm 1 as structure tilts

A small number of salmon escaped from SalMar’s flagship project, Ocean Farm 1, on Monday after the structure tilted and the top on the internal net dipped below the water line.

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Olav-Andreas Ervik: "We take this seriously".

In a press release SalMar, the joint co-owner of Scottish Sea Farms, said the issue was quickly corrected and measures were taken to capture the escaped fish.

Initial investigations indicate that the structure tilted due to water coming in through a hatch in a tank system, a supportive part of a sliding bulkhead which was inside the cage. The closure had been opened for inspection the day before and left open by mistake. The structural integrity of Ocean Farm 1, moored off the Norwegian coast, remains intact, according to the company.

18cms under water

The on-board log shows that a few metres of the net were up to 18cms under water for a short period of time, and during this period an estimated small number of salmon swam out of the inner net.

SalMar said 36 salmon were immediately caught in the structure’s external safety net. Another 21 salmon were later reportedly caught by a fisherman in the area. It is unclear whether these are fish from SalMar’s cage.

In accordance with procedures, a total of 1.2 kilometres of nets were placed on Monday, and on Tuesday morning 12 salmon were caught in these nets, something which SalMar said underlines that only a small number of fish came out of the cage before the tilt was corrected.

“So far we’ve recaptured 69 salmon around the cage, which indicates that the incident had a limited effect, but we take this seriously,” said chief executive Olav-Andreas Ervik.

Ocean Farm 1 is designed for open sea and very large physical stresses. There is nothing to suggest that the construction itself is wrong. The net itself is constructed in a robust material that is also used for avalanche protection of mountain sides. On the outside of this innermost net there is an extra net of similar material that provides double protection against damage.