£7.45m RAS training centre opened in Norway
Purpose-built facility has 27 separate units that offer huge flexibility for research
A NOK 90 million (£7.45 m) research and training facility for onshore fish farming has been opened in Tromsø in northern Norway.
RASforsk is an educational and research recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility that will offer training opportunities for young people, helping to fill a skills gap in a rapidly expanding area of aquaculture.
The facility is part of the Aquaculture Research Station and is housed in a newly constructed 1,350 square metre hall. The hall contains 18 tanks with a volume of 1m³ and six 9m³ tanks, all with separate recirculation systems.
RASforsk is designed to facilitate experiments, and the recirculation systems and tanks can be interconnected as needed.
Salmon farmers are investing heavily in RAS facilities in Norway, both for large post-smolt which spend less time in sea pens and for growing fish to harvest size.
“The aquaculture industry is undergoing rapid technological developments, and in order for education and research to keep up, it is essential that modern research facilities are developed in line with national requirements,” said Rita Sæther, general manager of the Aquaculture Research Station.
“There is a great need for training and transfer of knowledge to the industry.
“The industry is aware of how important knowledge is for the well-being of the fish, particularly now as developments indicate that fish should be kept on land longer before being released into the sea, or in some cases be farmed on land right up to slaughter.”
The Aquaculture Research Station is co-owned by research institute Nofima and the University of Tromsø (UiT).
Bente Torstensen, division director at Nofima, said RASforsk would contribute to improving knowledge about fish welfare.
“Fish welfare is very important, and technology must thus be adapted to the fish’s requirement for good water quality,” said Torstensen. “This means that temperature, salinity, oxygen, carbon dioxide, ammonia, pH and biofilter activity must be closely monitored. This can be demanding, and education and research are important for the aquaculture industry to develop its use of RAS technology.”
Katrine Tveiterås, prorector at UiT, said: “Training candidates in an active research community is an unconditional benefit both for knowledge and industry development.
“The industry needs more minds who know RAS, and there we have a particularly important task to train candidates who can contribute to healthy fish, better fish health and sustainable production. We are pleased that RASforsk gets better facilities for this. Because developments are so rapid, it makes sense to coordinate research, education and industry partnerships, which joint ownership of the Aquaculture Research Station enables.”