It is an exciting time for a scientist when research meets implementation. And this is exactly why Vasco Mota, a biologist from Portugal, and Jagan Gorle, an expert in computational modelling and flow analysis from India, find themselves at the Nofima facilities in Sunndalsøra.
Vasco Mota (left) is an expert in fish biology from Portugal, while Jagan Gorle is an expert in computational modelling and flow analysis from India. Now they are working at Nofima in Norway (Photo: Bendik Fyhn Terjesen/Nofima)
The facility on the west coast of Norway is the location of CtrlAQUA, a centre for research-based innovation (SFI) established by the Research Council of Norway to promote innovation in closed-containment systems.
Technology is advancing rapidly and the two international scientists want to be involved in developing the new generation of closed-containment salmon aquaculture facilities.
Nofima senior scientist and project spokesman, Dr Bendik Fyhn Terjesen, six researchers, and a total of 13 participants from the aquaculture industry and associated technology sectors are partnering in the specially-assigned centre. All are described as “front-runners in the development of salmon aquaculture in closed systems.”
Mota is looking into the relative tolerances of post-smolts for waste products in water-recirculating plants. Among other things he will research the maximum levels of CO2 the salmon can cope with in those systems.
“When production is made more intensive, as is the case in closed-containment systems, the level of CO2 becomes important, since the gas is dissolved in the recirculated water and may influence fish growth and well-being,” Mota explains in the Nofima statement.
“And the well-being and health of the salmon are important to ensure good growth in closed-containment systems. That’s why we need research-based indicators of well-being, such as the level of CO2.”
Mota studied how fish experience the water-recirculation environment for his doctoral thesis, awarded by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, which is renowned for its work with various fish species in recirc aquaculture systems (RAS).
Nofima says it will be Gorle’s task to investigate the factors that need to be taken into account when facilities are to be scaled up, to and beyond the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
“One major challenge is to maintain an even flow of the water, which is optimal for creating a good environment for the salmon,” says Gorle.
“It’s clearly possible to model extremely large tanks for aquaculture,” Gorle says.
“One of the challenges for me in modelling water flow is that we must consider the wishes of the biologists,” says Gorle with a smile. “I’m not used to this, but it makes the work much more interesting.”
Terjesen is quoted as saying, “We are a strong team of many scientists and industrial partners working together to make closed-containment systems available off-the-shelf by 2023,” he said.
Nofima says CtrlAQUA, which opened in April last year, is focussing on producing salmon of up to one kilogram in closed-containment systems.
— Quentin Dodd