New smolt transfer pontoon delivers real benefits for Cooke Aquaculture (Freshwater) Ltd
The completion of a smolt transfer pontoon for Cooke Aquaculture (Freshwater) Ltd for its new hatchery at Furnace, Loch Fyne, has brought significant benefits to the company with several successful fish transfers already completed.
Fabricated and installed by Fusion Marine Ltd, the new 91m pontoon is being used for the transfer of smolts from the hatchery to wellboats for onward transport to Cooke Aquaculture Scotland’s marine salmon farms in Orkney and Shetland. Cooke’s new £6m recirculation smolt production unit lies immediately adjacent to deepwater access in Loch Fyne, enabling large well boats to berth alongside the pontoon with ease.
Transferring smolts directly via the fish transfer system significantly reduces handling of the young salmon and delivers real efficiency benefits compared with road transport.
Andy Young, general manager of the Furnace Smolt Unit, said: “This pontoon is bringing several significant advantages, most notably in the speed and ease of transfer of smolts. We can now, for example, transfer fish at any time of the day or night without being constrained by road transport or pier availability restrictions.
“The system is also much better for the fish as the complex handling operation of transferring between lorries has been completely removed.
“This reduces the stress for the smolts, which in turn keeps mortality rates down to a low level. It also means the fish can be directly transferred to their final growing pens, enabling them to start feeding and putting on weight as soon as they arrive.”
The polyethylene pontoon features a 3.7m by 7.1m hammerhead platform at the seaward end to enable convenient berthing of wellboats. The pontoon has two transfer lines fitted to the port and starboard sides of the deck, a 160mm spooled smooth bore line for fish transfer and a 200mm water return line including oxygen injection branch points on the fish line.
A 125mm fixed handrail running on both sides of the pontoon provides a safe walkway with the option to discreetly run utility services to the end of the structure. The provision for lighting and life ring attachments have also been incorporated into the pontoon design enabling 24/7 use.
Rhuaraidh Edwards of Fusion Marine: “We have previously completed fish transfer pontoon projects for two harvest stations but this is the first time we have installed a smolt transfer pontoon. The basic design principles still apply, however the finer system detail has been tailored to meet the customer’s specific requirements. We have also made a number of structural design modifications and upgrades to this pontoon as part of our continual product development.”
“We are delighted that Cooke Aquaculture (Freshwater) Ltd now has a tailor-made fish transfer solution for their state-of-the-art hatchery that is making a significant improvement to the quality of smolt transfers to seawater.”