A remotely operated net cleaner.

Many RONCs make a right

Marine Harvest Canada (MHC) has recently invested millions in innovative net-cleaning technology after discontinuing use of copper-treated nets at its British Columbian farms.

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MHC now operates 12 Remote Operated Net Cleaners (RONCs), which use high pressure water and scrubbing discs to remove organics from net pens.

Since November of 2015, MHC has purchased 12 RONCs, in a total investment of more than $2.1 million, and is now purchasing and modifying five boats to add to its existing fleet.

This application of new technologies in net cleaning demonstrates the commitment of the company to adhere to strict environmental requirements for its third-party certification programs, including the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s salmon standard.

“We had been on course to eliminate copper treated nets before we committed to full certification of all farm sites by 2020. The ASC standard reinforces that we were on the right track,” said Dougie Hunter, MHC's Production Director.

The RONCs are housed on a support vessel which moors alongside cages to pressure wash nets without having to disturb any fish or infrastructure.

The key piece of technology is a five- or seven-disc net cleaning head, manufactured in Norway by Multi Pump Innovation. This system is operated from a boat-mounted control station. The RONCs are equipped with two bidirectional rubber tracks, a monochrome/colour pan and tilt camera and LED lights. The RONC operator sits in the control chair and uses two joysticks to direct the cleaning head over the underwater net, removing algae, seaweed and any other built up organic matter.